24/7 Space News
TECH SPACE
New method simplifies the construction process for complex materials
Researchers from MIT and the Institute of Science and Technology Austria have created a technique to include many different building blocks of cellular metamaterials into one, unified graph-based representation. They used this representation to create a user-friendly interface that an engineer can utilize to quickly and easily model metamaterials, edit the structures, and simulate their properties.
ADVERTISEMENT
New method simplifies the construction process for complex materials
by Adam Zewe for MIT News
Boston MA (SPX) Aug 04, 2023

Engineers are constantly searching for materials with novel, desirable property combinations. For example, an ultra-strong, lightweight material could be used to make airplanes and cars more fuel-efficient, or a material that is porous and biomechanically friendly could be useful for bone implants.

Cellular metamaterials - artificial structures composed of units, or cells, that repeat in various patterns - can help achieve these goals. But it is difficult to know which cellular structure will lead to the desired properties. Even if one focuses on structures made of smaller building blocks like interconnected beams or thin plates, there are an infinite number of possible arrangements to consider. So, engineers can manually explore only a small fraction of all the cellular metamaterials that are hypothetically possible.

Researchers from MIT and the Institute of Science and Technology Austria have developed a computational technique that makes it easier for a user to quickly design a metamaterial cell from any of those smaller building blocks, and then evaluate the resulting metamaterial's properties.

Their approach, like a specialized CAD (computer-aided design) system for metamaterials, allows an engineer to quickly model even very complex metamaterials and experiment with designs that may have otherwise taken days to develop. The user-friendly interface also enables the user to explore the entire space of potential metamaterial shapes, since all building blocks are at their disposal.

"We came up with a representation that can cover all of the different shapes engineers have traditionally shown interest in. Because you can build them all the same way, that means you can switch between them more fluidly," says MIT electrical engineering and computer science graduate student Liane Makatura, co-lead author of a paper on this technique.

Makatura wrote the paper with co-lead author Bohan Wang, an MIT postdoc; Yi-Lu Chen, a graduate student at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA); Bolei Deng, an MIT postdoc; Chris Wojtan and Bernd Bickel, professors at ISTA; and senior author Wojciech Matusik, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT who leads the Computational Design and Fabrication Group within the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. The research will be presented at SIGGRAPH.

A unified method
When a scientist develops a cellular metamaterial, she typically begins by choosing a representation that will be used to describe her potential designs. This choice determines the set of shapes that will be available for exploration.

For instance, she may choose a technique that represents metamaterials using many interconnecting beams. However, this prevents her from exploring metamaterials based on other elements, such as thin plates or 3D structures like spheres. Those shapes are given by different representations, but so far, there hasn't been a unified way to describe all shapes in one method.

"By choosing a specific subspace ahead of time, you limit your exploration and introduce a bias based on your intuition. While this can be useful, intuition can be incorrect, and some of the other shapes may have also been worth exploring for your particular application," says Makatura.

She and her collaborators took a step back and closely examined different metamaterials. They saw that the shapes that comprise the overall structure could be easily represented by lower-dimensional shapes - a beam could be reduced to a line or a thin-shell could be compressed to a flat surface.

They also noticed that cellular metamaterials often have symmetries, so only a small part of the structure needs to be represented. The rest can be built by rotating and mirroring that initial piece.

"By combining those two observations, we arrived at this idea that cellular metamaterials could be well-represented as a graph structure," she says.

With their graph-based representation, a user builds a metamaterial skeleton using building blocks that are created by vertices and edges. For instance, to create a beam structure, one places a vertex at each end point of the beam and connects them with a line.

Then the user employs a function over that line to specify the thickness of the beam, which can be varied so one part of the beam is thicker than another.

The process for surfaces is similar - the user marks the most important features with vertices and then chooses a solver that infers the rest of the surface.

These easy-to-use solvers even allow users to quickly construct a highly complex type of metamaterial, called a triply periodic minimal surface (TPMS). These structures are incredibly powerful, but the usual process to develop them is arduous and prone to failure.

"With our representation, you can also start combining these shapes. Perhaps a unit cell containing both a TPMS structure and a beam structure could give you interesting properties. But so far, those combinations really haven't been explored to any degree," she says.

At the end of the process, the system outputs the entire graph-based procedure, showing every operation the user took to reach the final structure - all the vertices, edges, solvers, transformations, and thickening operations.

Within the user interface, designers can preview the current structure at any point in the building procedure and directly predict certain properties, such as its stiffness. Then, the user can iteratively tweak some parameters and evaluate it again until a suitable design is reached.

A user-friendly framework
The researchers used their system to recreate structures that spanned many unique classes of metamaterials. Once they had designed the skeletons, each metamaterial structure took only seconds to generate.

They also created automated exploration algorithms, giving each a set of rules and then turning it loose in their system. In one test, an algorithm returned more than 1,000 potential truss-based structures in about an hour.

In addition, the researchers conducted a user-study with 10 individuals who had little prior experience modeling metamaterials. The users were able to successfully model all six structures they were given, and most agreed that the procedural graph representation made the process easier.

"Our representation makes all sorts of structures more accessible to people. We were especially pleased with users' ability to generate TPMS. These complex structures are usually difficult even for experts to generate. Still, one TPMS in our study had the lowest average modeling time out of all six structures, which was surprising and exciting," she says.

In the future, the researchers want to enhance their technique by incorporating more complex skeleton thickening procedures, so the system can model a wider variety of shapes. They also want to continue exploring the use of automatic generation algorithms.

And in the long term, they'd like to use this system for inverse design, where one would specify desired material properties and then use an algorithm to find the optimal metamaterial structure.

This research is funded, in part, by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, the MIT Morningside Academy Design Fellowship, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), an ERC Consolidator Grant, and the NewSat project.

Research Report:"Procedural Metamaterials: A Unified Procedural Graph for Metamaterial Design"

Related Links
Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
Space Technology News - Applications and Research

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

RELATED CONTENT
The following news reports may link to other Space Media Network websites.
TECH SPACE
Sensing and controlling microscopic spin density in materials
Boston MA (SPX) Aug 04, 2023
Electronic devices typically use the charge of electrons, but spin - their other degree of freedom - is starting to be exploited. Spin defects make crystalline materials highly useful for quantum-based devices such as ultrasensitive quantum sensors, quantum memory devices, or systems for simulating the physics of quantum effects. Varying the spin density in semiconductors can lead to new properties in a material - something researchers have long wanted to explore - but this density is usually fleeting a ... read more

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
TECH SPACE
Russian cosmonauts perform spacewalk to attach debris shields to space station

Advanced Space selected for two NASA SBIR Phase I Awards

NASA and Axiom Space join forces for fourth private mission in 2024

NASA announces crew for 2024 ISS rotation mission

TECH SPACE
Impulse Space secures $45M in Series A Funding Round

Rocket Lab inks new deal to launch HASTE mission from Virginia

Boeing says troubled Starliner will be ready to fly crew by March

Hypersonics Capability Center: Northrop Grumman's next step beyond Mach 5

TECH SPACE
Organic molecules in Martian crater help to reconstruct planet's history

Mars once had wet-dry climate conducive to supporting life: study

InSight study finds Mars is spinning faster

Ingenuity flies again after unscheduled landing

TECH SPACE
China to launch "Innovation X Scientific Flight" program, applications open worldwide

Scientists reveal blueprint of China's lunar water-ice probe mission

Shenzhou 15 crew share memorable moments from Tiangong Station mission

China's Space Station Opens Doors to Global Scientific Community

TECH SPACE
ESA's Space Environment Report 2023

US storms, natural disasters push up insurance costs: Swiss Re

Eutelsat and Thaicom to partner for new software-defined satellite over Asia

Astra Space optimizes workforce to support sustainable long-term business plan

TECH SPACE
New method simplifies the construction process for complex materials

Sensing and controlling microscopic spin density in materials

Umbra achieves Commercial SAR milestone with 16-cm resolution

DLR harnesses 3D Printing for efficient production of spaceflight components

TECH SPACE
Chemical contamination on International Space Station is out of this world

New exoplanet discovery builds better understanding of planet formation

Violent Atmosphere Gives Rare Look at Early Planetary Life

Using cosmic weather to study which worlds could support life

TECH SPACE
Looking for Light with New Horizons

James Webb Space Telescope sees Jupiter moons in a new light

NASA's Juno Is Getting Ever Closer to Jupiter's Moon Io

SwRI team identifies giant swirling waves at the edge of Jupiter's magnetosphere

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters


ADVERTISEMENT



The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2023 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.