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Springtronic structures: Mechanical metamaterials you can talk to

Event Type
Mechanical Science and Engineering
4100 Sidney Lu Mechanical Engineering Building
Mar 18, 2022   12:00 pm  
Dr. Marc Serra-Garcia, AMOLF
Amy Rumsey
Originating Calendar
MechSE Seminars


­By modifying the structure of a material, we can control how elastic waves propagate through it. This control has well-known applications such as focusing sounds at a point, or protecting buildings from earthquakes. But, is there a limit to what functions can we implement in a metamaterial? Could we, for example, have a structure that vibrates only in response to a verbal command? What about a soft robot that finds its way through a maze, without relying on control electronics? In this talk, I will discuss our recent work in springtronic elastic structures, passive metamaterials that execute algorithms or evaluate neural networks; tasks that, until recently, were the domain of digital computers. Springtronic devices have unique technological advantages, as they can replace electronic Internet of Things gadgets, while eliminating the need for heavy and polluting batteries. To design these structures, we start from a description of the desired functionality. This description may consist in a mass-spring model, a set of data examples, or a source code detailing the desired behaviour. Then, we follow multi-step procedures to convert these abstract descriptions into manufacturable structural geometries. My talk will discuss past theoretical and experimental results, as well as our current research directions. Concept of an elastic structure that recognises specific words (left) and network of vibrating plate resonators in an elastic metamaterial.

About the Speaker

Marc Serra-Garcia leads the hypersmart matter group at AMOLF. His research focuses on building smart devices that take advantage of the unique nonlinear, low-damping response of elastic structures. His work includes the first experimental demonstration of a higher-order topological metamaterial, the realisation of a stochastic heat engine based on elastic nonlinearities, the invention of hyper-efficient acoustic lenses and the development of atomic force microscopy techniques to image ultra-high-frequency elastic vibrations. He holds a BSc in Physics (Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona), a MSc in Aerospace (Caltech) and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering (ETH Zurich).

link for robots only