Manipulating physical signals such as light, sound, heat or motion is a vital challenge in multiple areas of science, with far-reaching ramifications for technology and society. Due to recent advances in digital fabrication techniques, the last years have seen a revolution in artificial periodic composites with on-demand electromagnetic, acoustic, thermal and mechanical properties that surpass that of their constituents and that have important applications in e.g. telecommunications, energy management and medicine.
These so-called metamaterials become particularly interesting in mechanics, where geometrical effects, nonlinear responses and coupling to the environment are much more accessible and stronger than in any other physical field.
In this talk, I will show that mechanical metamaterials using geometrical nonlinearities and mechanical instabilities lead to entirely new properties and functionalities such as negative, programmable and asymmetric responses. Using 3D printing of flexible materials, precision desktop experiments, numerical modelling and theory, we demonstrate that flexible metamaterials can be designed, fabricated and programmed for specific mechanical tasks. Such approach opens up promising pathways to bridge the gap between Matter and Machine.