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Published October 17, 2017 | Published
Journal Article Open

Exploiting Microstructural Instabilities in Solids and Structures: From Metamaterials to Structural Transitions


Instabilities in solids and structures are ubiquitous across all length and time scales, and engineering design principles have commonly aimed at preventing instability. However, over the past two decades, engineering mechanics has undergone a paradigm shift, away from avoiding instability and toward taking advantage thereof. At the core of all instabilities—both at the microstructural scale in materials and at the macroscopic, structural level—lies a nonconvex potential energy landscape which is responsible, e.g., for phase transitions and domain switching, localization, pattern formation, or structural buckling and snapping. Deliberately driving a system close to, into, and beyond the unstable regime has been exploited to create new materials systems with superior, interesting, or extreme physical properties. Here, we review the state-of-the-art in utilizing mechanical instabilities in solids and structures at the microstructural level in order to control macroscopic (meta)material performance. After a brief theoretical review, we discuss examples of utilizing material instabilities (from phase transitions and ferroelectric switching to extreme composites) as well as examples of exploiting structural instabilities in acoustic and mechanical metamaterials.

Additional Information

© 2017 by ASME. Paper No: AMR-17-1031. Received May 04, 2017; Revised September 13, 2017. Funding Data: National Science Foundation, Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation (CAREER Award Nos. CMMI-1254424 and CMMI-1149456). Division of Materials Research (Grant No. DMR-1420570). Office of Naval Research (Grant No. W911NF-17-1-0147).

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