The research objective of this Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program award is to understand how microscale instabilities in multiscale material systems affect their macroscopic mechanical response, and how they can be exploited to result in tunable low-frequency acoustic band gaps and order-of-magnitude increases in the overall (visco)elastic properties, which will be demonstrated explicitly for metal-polymer structural materials. The integrated theoretical, computational and experimental strategy promises to result in what is urgently needed to advance opportunities in metamaterials: i) experimentally-confirmed physical understanding of effective properties and stability of multiscale systems, ii) computational models for advanced structural materials, and iii) proof-of-concept experiments leading to a novel class of light-weight functional high stiffness-high damping materials for applications ranging from seismic protection and scientific vibration isolation to acoustic wave guides and filters.
Owing to their superb physical properties, the new materials expected to emerge from the proposed research stand to improve a variety of commercial products in aerospace, automotive, and civil engineering, in the defense, transportation, energy and telecommunication industries, and to result in new technologies. The multidisciplinary approach and the potential for technology transfer will promote scientific collaborations beyond Caltech and with industry. The educational component will make a significant impact both locally ? through sustainably improving K-12 STEM education by a long-term classroom partnership program and by promoting hands-on research experience ? and globally ? through international collaborations and research opportunities, and by providing new research-integrated educational resources to students and educators world-wide. Research and teaching will prepare future scientists and engineers for the key challenges in the emerging interdisciplinary field of engineered material systems and provide opportunities for students of all levels to become involved.