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Published November 2019 | Submitted
Journal Article Open

Architected lattices with adaptive energy absorption


Energy absorbing materials, like foams used in protective equipment, are able to undergo large deformations under low stresses, reducing the incoming stress wave below an injury or damage threshold. They are typically effective in absorbing energy through plastic deformation or fragmentation. However, existing solutions are passive, only effective against specific threats and they are usually damaged after use. Here, we overcome these limitations designing energy absorbing materials that use architected lattices filled with granular particles. We use architected lattices to take advantage of controlled bending and buckling of members to enhance energy absorption. We actively control the negative pressure level within the lattices, to tune the jamming phase transition of the granular particles, inducing controllable energy absorption and recoverable deformations. Our system shows tunable stiffness and yield strength by over an order of magnitude, and reduces the transmitted impact stress at different levels by up to 40% compared to the passive lattice. The demonstrated adaptive energy absorbing system sees wide potential applications from personal protective equipment, vehicle safety systems to aerospace structures.

Additional Information

© 2019 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Received 12 August 2019, Revised 10 September 2019, Accepted 10 September 2019, Available online 18 September 2019. Y. W and C. D. acknowledge the support from the National Science Foundation under EFRI Grant No. 1741565. This research was carried out at the California Institute of Technology and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and funded through the President's and Director's Fund Program. Y. W., B. R. and C. D. designed the experiment. Y. W. and B. R. performed the experiment and analyzed the data. Y. W., B. R. and C. D. wrote the manuscript. All authors interpreted the results and reviewed the manuscript.

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August 22, 2023
October 18, 2023