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Harvard builds cross-functional metamaterial that could reinvent prototyping for designers

Researchers at the harvard SEAS have found a way to design reconfigurable metamaterials—that’s smart materials with more that one function, which can interchange between their different properties. metamaterials are materials whose function is determined by structure, not composition. existing metamaterials have been designed to transform from soft to stiff, bend light and sounds, and even damped seismic waves from earthquakes. however, each of these functions requires a unique mechanical structure, making such metamaterials great for a specific task, but difficult to use broadly.

researchers at harvard set out to solve this problem, and have in turn created a framework to design reconfigurable metamaterials, which would be able to contain multiple functions within a single structure, and easily switch between them. the design strategy that the researchers have produced is scale independent, meaning that it can be used for everything from huge building materials to nano-scale systems such as photonic crystals and waveguides.