By EPFL JANUARY 20, 2021
Over the past 20 years, scientists have been developing metamaterials, or materials that don’t occur naturally and whose mechanical properties result from their designed structure rather than their chemical composition. They allow researchers to create materials with specific properties and shapes. Metamaterials are still not widely used in everyday objects, but that could soon change. Tian Chen, a post-doc at two EPFL labs — the Flexible Structures Laboratory, headed by Pedro Reis, and the Geometric Computing Laboratory, headed by Mark Pauly — has taken metamaterials one step further, developing one whose mechanical properties can be reprogrammed after the material has been made. His research appears in Nature.