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Harnessing particle assembly for the design of programmable mechanical metamaterials

   Department of Mechanical Engineering

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  Dr Mingchao Liu, Prof Karl Dearn  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Owing to extensive potential applications in various engineering areas, the mechanical metamaterials with unique and remarkable mechanical properties, such as shape-morphing, tunable Poisson’s ratio, tunable stiffness and multi-stability, have gained increasing interest from both academia and industry recently [1,2]. Although those functionalities of existing mechanical metamaterials can be possessed by engineering their microstructures precisely, they are hard to adjust once fabricated [3].

Reported solutions to tune the mechanical responses of structures mainly rely on responsive materials, such as hydrogels, shape memory polymers and liquid crystal elastomers. However, these materials are either mechanically too soft for engineering applications, or requiring demanding conditions to trigger the tunability. Particle assembly are known to exhibit tunable mechanical properties, which can be adopted for the design of tunable mechanical metamaterials.

Built upon the expertise of supervisors on structural mechanics and contact mechanics, this project aims to design mechanical metamaterials with programmable properties, such as tunable stress-strain relations and adaptive energy absorptions, by using particle assembly as the building blocks for applications in the impact protection and the seismic resistant. The project will be co-supervised by Prof. Mingchao Liu and Prof. Karl Dearn, and in close collaboration with Prof. K Jimmy Hsia and Prof. Yifan Wang at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Funding Notes

Students are encouraged to contact Dr Liu ([Email Address Removed]) at the earliest opportunity to apply for scholarships from the School of Engineering. It should be noted that the award of these scholarships is highly competitive.


[1]. Meng, Z., Liu, M., Yan, H., Genin, G. M., & Chen, C. Q. (2022). Deployable mechanical metamaterials with multistep programmable transformation. Sci. Adv., 8(23), eabn5460.
[2]. Liu, M., Domino, L., de Dinechin, I. D., Taffetani, M., & Vella, D. (2023). Snap-induced morphing: From a single bistable shell to the origin of shape bifurcation in interacting shells. J Mech. Phys. Solids, 170, 105116.
[3]. Mao, J. J., Wang, S., Tan, W., & Liu, M. (2022). Modular multistable metamaterials with reprogrammable mechanical properties. Eng. Struct., 272, 114976.

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