Thrust 1 Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing technologies)
We develop develop the next generation of high volume, scalable 3D micro/nano manufacturing technologies capable of structural and electronic materials with sub-micron resolutions. Fabrication and characterizations of these nano-structured hierarchical materials will be made possible by leveraging the unique opto-mechanical platforms for fabrication of highly complex, three-dimensional structures with micro-scale architecture and submicron precision. Several areas of research are being pursued: 1) Additive manufacturing techniques capable of assembling variety of intrinsic materials (polymer, metallic or alumina at~10-100nm) into a larger material (>100cm) with three-dimensional arbitrary features. 2) Hybrid and multi-material additive manufacturing capable of assembling distinct classics of materials (dielectrics, polymers, ceramics and electronic materials)
Thrust 2: Design for mechanical and functional metamaterials
Most commonly, material properties (such as density, strength, toughness, stiffness, thermal, piezoelectricity, ferroelectricity) are highly coupled in natural and man-made materials. The aim of this research is to capitalize the unique benefits of micro and nano-architectures spanning multiple hierarchical levels to create new materials that possess combinations of bulk, multi-functional properties. Although theoretical studies have been done to predict the beneficial behavior of incorporating hierarchical or fractal like 3D architectures, few studies can fully harness the potential of structural and material hierarchy onto bulk materials, due to the limitation on size, architecture and material scalability on existing fabrication technologies. This area of research exploits the intersection of design, mechanics, computations and machine learning to solve complex digital design problems.
Fractal like 3D nanoarchitectures
Hierarchical Metamaterials: An ultralight Nickel phosphorous metamaterials comprised of disparate 3D micro-architectures across over 7 orders of magnitude in length-scale.
X. Zheng*, et al Nature Materials (Cover), 15, 1100–1106 (2016)
Combination of dissimilar mechanism from disparate hierarchies
Thrust 3 Design and novel fabrication of transducers, electronic, and robotic devices
With an unpresented control of topology, high resolution feature sizes, and assembling of multiple active and structural materials into complex architectures, new classes of novel devices, smart materials and robots can be realized with extraordinary functionalities via a fraction of volume and weight compared to products fabricated via existing manufacturing routes. Efforts will be focused on the following areas 1) Biodegradable tunable microlattices for accelerated cell growth and wound healing 2) Functionally graded 3D material with biomolecules for biosecurity and countermeasures 3) Micro-actuators and integrated robots with high force and displacement output and large bandwidth. 4) Smart materials for novel air and underwater transducers