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Published September 11, 2014 | Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Strong, lightweight, and recoverable three-dimensional ceramic nanolattices


Ceramics have some of the highest strength- and stiffness-to-weight ratios of any material but are suboptimal for use as structural materials because of their brittleness and sensitivity to flaws. We demonstrate the creation of structural metamaterials composed of nanoscale ceramics that are simultaneously ultralight, strong, and energy-absorbing and can recover their original shape after compressions in excess of 50% strain. Hollow-tube alumina nanolattices were fabricated using two-photon lithography, atomic layer deposition, and oxygen plasma etching. Structures were made with wall thicknesses of 5 to 60 nanometers and densities of 6.3 to 258 kilograms per cubic meter. Compression experiments revealed that optimizing the wall thickness-to-radius ratio of the tubes can suppress brittle fracture in the constituent solid in favor of elastic shell buckling, resulting in ductile-like deformation and recoverability.

Additional Information

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. Received 12 May 2014; accepted 11 August 2014. The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency under the Materials with Controlled Microstructure and Architecture program managed by J. Goldwasser (contract no. W91CRB-10-0305) and to the Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies through grant W911NF-09-0001 from the U.S. Army Research Office. The content of the information does not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of the government, and no official endorsement should be inferred. The authors are grateful to the Kavli Nanoscience Institute at Caltech for the availability of critical cleanroom facilities, and to R. Liontas and C. Garland for TEM assistance. Part of this work was carried out in the Lewis Group facilities at Caltech.

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