Imperial College London
Metacrystals – Lightweight and Damage-tolerant Architected Materials
Architected materials are lightweight materials that can exhibit combinations of properties which are inaccessible to conventional solids. However, they have a major issue in that these materials can exhibit a catastrophic post-yielding collapse, causing substantial loss in strength and reduction in energy absorption during deformation. We proposed to mimic the microstructure observed in crystalline metals to employ hardening mechanisms found in metallic alloys to develop robust and damage-tolerant architected materials. Additive manufacturing is currently the only technique that is able to realise the crystal-inspired designs. Our study (published in Nature) shows that crystal-inspired mesostructures substantially strengthen and offer a great control in directing the damage propagation in architected materials as do crystal microstructures in the case of metallic alloys. Consequently, this crystal-inspired approach enables the fusion of metals science into additive manufacturing to design lightweight and damage-tolerant materials, holding a great potential for a variety of applications ranging from automobiles, aerospace, defence and personal protection. Last but not least, the use of crystalline alloys as the base materials to fabricate crystal-like architected materials opens a new frontier of research as it leads to the generation of an excitingly new family of materials (termed meta-crystals) comprising highly scalable hierarchical crystal structure: intrinsic micro-crystals within architected macro-crystals. Desired properties of meta-crystals can readily be achieved via tailoring the crystal microstructure and architected mesostructures.
Dr. Minh-Son (Son) Pham is a lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Engineering Alloys and Metallurgy at Imperial College London. Before joining Imperial, Son was a postdoc at Carnegie Mellon University and being located at NIST. Son obtained a doctor of science degree from ETH Zürich in 2013 with distinction ETH Medal. He currently leads a research group focusing on (1) material design, (2) data informatics (including machine learning) in materials, (3) additive manufacturing, (4) fatigue and (5) constitutive modelling. His research has been highly recognised via peer-reviewed articles (in Nature, J. of Mech. & Phys. of Solids, Int. J. of Fatigue, etc), and well highlighted by a large number of media channels. Pham’s research has been supported via grants (worth over £1,000,000 in different sectors, e.g aerospace, defence and additive manufacturing) sponsored by EPSRC-MAPP, AWE, BIAM and Imperial College.
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