Structural materials

  • Article |

    Preparing amorphous phases of carbon with mostly sp3 bonding in bulk is challenging, but macroscopic samples that are nearly pure sp3 are synthesized here by heating fullerenes at high pressure.

    • Yuchen Shang
    • , Zhaodong Liu
    •  & Bingbing Liu
  • Article |

    A study demonstrates that a range of different behaviours—from reversible, through weeping, to explosive—can be exhibited by a chemically homogeneous ceramic system by manipulating conditions of compatibility in unusual ways.

    • Hanlin Gu
    • , Jascha Rohmer
    •  & Richard D. James
  • Perspective |

    Computing approaches based on mechanical mechanisms are discussed, with a view towards a framework in which adaptable materials and structures act as a distributed information processing network.

    • Hiromi Yasuda
    • , Philip R. Buskohl
    •  & Jordan R. Raney
  • Article |

    A structured fabric constructed of linked hollow polyhedral particles (resembling chain mail) can be simply and reversibly tuned between flexible and rigid states; when it is compressed, its linked particles become jammed.

    • Yifan Wang
    • , Liuchi Li
    •  & Chiara Daraio
  • Article |

    High-performance hydrodynamic simulations show that the skeletal structure of the deep-sea sponge Euplectella aspergillum reduces the hydrodynamic stresses on it, while possibly being beneficial for feeding and reproduction.

    • Giacomo Falcucci
    • , Giorgio Amati
    •  & Sauro Succi
  • Article |

    Cellular fluidics provides a platform of unit-cell-based, three-dimensional structures for the deterministic control of multiphase flow, transport and reaction processes.

    • Nikola A. Dudukovic
    • , Erika J. Fong
    •  & Eric B. Duoss
  • Perspective |

    Inanimate matter is beginning to show some signs of basic intelligence—the ability to sense, actuate and use memory, as controlled by an internal communication network in functional materials.

    • C. Kaspar
    • , B. J. Ravoo
    •  & W. H. P. Pernice
  • Article |

    Origami-inspired multistable structures that can be inflated from flat to three dimensions have been designed; a library of foldable shapes is created and then combined to build metre-scale functional structures.

    • David Melancon
    • , Benjamin Gorissen
    •  & Katia Bertoldi
  • Article |

    A two-tiered dynamic design strategy achieves topological transformations of two-dimensional polymeric cellular microstructures in a reversible and temporally controllable manner through exposure to different liquids.

    • Shucong Li
    • , Bolei Deng
    •  & Joanna Aizenberg
  • Article |

    A free-swimming soft robot inspired by deep-sea creatures, with artificial muscle, power and control electronics spread across a polymer matrix, successfully adapts to high pressure and operates in the deep ocean.

    • Guorui Li
    • , Xiangping Chen
    •  & Wei Yang
  • Article |

    Bulk ultrafine-grained steel is prepared by an approach that involves the rapid production of coherent, disordered nanoprecipitates, which restrict grain growth but do not interfere with twinning or dislocation motion, resulting in high strength and ductility.

    • Junheng Gao
    • , Suihe Jiang
    •  & W. Mark Rainforth
  • Perspective |

    Opportunities for the application of fibrillated cellulose materials—which can be extracted from renewable resources—and broader manufacturing issues of scale-up, sustainability and synergy with the paper-making industry are discussed.

    • Tian Li
    • , Chaoji Chen
    •  & Liangbing Hu
  • Article |

    A reprogrammable mechanical metamaterial constructed of bistable unit cells that can be switched independently and reversibly between two stable states with distinct mechanical properties using magnetic actuation is demonstrated.

    • Tian Chen
    • , Mark Pauly
    •  & Pedro M. Reis
  • Article |

    A jigsaw-style configuration of interlocking structures identified in the elytra of the remarkably tough diabolical ironclad beetle, Phloeodes diabolicus, is used to inspire crush-resistant multilayer composites for engineering joints.

    • Jesus Rivera
    • , Maryam Sadat Hosseini
    •  & David Kisailus
  • Article |

    A Damascus-like steel consisting of alternating hard and soft layers is created by using a laser additive manufacturing technique and digital control of the processing parameters.

    • Philipp Kürnsteiner
    • , Markus Benjamin Wilms
    •  & Dierk Raabe
  • Article |

    Layered nanocomposites fabricated using a continuous and scalable process achieve properties exceeding those of natural nacre, the result of stiffened matrix polymer chains confined between highly aligned nanosheets.

    • Chuangqi Zhao
    • , Pengchao Zhang
    •  & Lei Jiang
  • Article |

    Atomic-resolution observations combined with simulations show that grain boundaries within elemental copper undergo temperature-induced solid-state phase transformation to different structures; grain boundary phases can also coexist and are kinetically trapped structures.

    • Thorsten Meiners
    • , Timofey Frolov
    •  & Christian H. Liebscher
  • Article |

    The synthesis of surprisingly stable, free-standing single layers of amorphous carbon and their analysis by atomic-resolution imaging could settle a debate about their atomic arrangement and offer unusual electronics applications.

    • Chee-Tat Toh
    • , Hongji Zhang
    •  & Barbaros Özyilmaz
  • Review Article |

    Structural metals enable improved energy efficiency through their reduced mass, higher thermal stability and better mechanical properties; here, methods of improving the sustainability of structural metals, from recycling to contaminant tolerance, are described.

    • Dierk Raabe
    • , C. Cem Tasan
    •  & Elsa A. Olivetti
  • Article |

    Inspired by the enhanced mechanical strength of microstructured metals, damage-tolerant architected materials are developed in which the internal structure is granular, with different regions having different lattice orientations.

    • Minh-Son Pham
    • , Chen Liu
    •  & Jedsada Lertthanasarn
  • Perspective |

    The phenomenon of ultralow friction between sliding incommensurate crystal surfaces—structural superlubricity—is examined, and the challenges and opportunities involved in its extension to the macroscale are assessed.

    • Oded Hod
    • , Ernst Meyer
    •  & Michael Urbakh
  • Letter |

    A robust ceramic/refractory metal (ZrC/W)-based composite for use in heat exchangers in concentrated solar power plants above 1,023 kelvin is described, having attractive high-temperature thermal, mechanical and chemical properties combined with cost-effective processing.

    • M. Caccia
    • , M. Tabandeh-Khorshid
    •  & K. H. Sandhage
  • Letter |

    A scheme for implementing multi-step topological reorganization of a mechanical metamaterial is demonstrated, which proceeds autonomously, without the need for external control.

    • Corentin Coulais
    • , Alberico Sabbadini
    •  & Martin van Hecke
  • Letter |

    A process is described for the transformation of bulk wood into a low-cost, strong, tough, lightweight structural material, by the partial removal of lignin and hemicellulose followed by hot-pressing to densify the natural wood.

    • Jianwei Song
    • , Chaoji Chen
    •  & Liangbing Hu
  • Letter |

    The relaxation dynamics of granular materials is more like that of complex fluids than that of thermal glass-forming systems, owing to the absence of the ‘cage effect’.

    • Binquan Kou
    • , Yixin Cao
    •  & Yujie Wang
  • Letter |

    In copper components containing highly oriented nanotwins, correlated ‘necklace’ dislocations moving back and forth offer an unusually fatigue-resistant response to engineering stress.

    • Qingsong Pan
    • , Haofei Zhou
    •  & Lei Lu
  • Letter |

    The limits of dislocation-mediated metal plasticity are studied by using in situ computational microscopy to reduce the enormous amount of data from fully dynamic atomistic simulations into a manageable form.

    • Luis A. Zepeda-Ruiz
    • , Alexander Stukowski
    •  & Vasily V. Bulatov
  • Letter |

    Zirconium nanoparticles introduced into aluminium alloy powders control solidification during 3D printing, enabling the production of crack-free materials with strengths comparable to the corresponding wrought material.

    • John H. Martin
    • , Brennan D. Yahata
    •  & Tresa M. Pollock
  • Letter |

    Combining the benefits of nanocrystals with those of amorphous metallic glasses leads to a dual-phase material—comprising sub-10-nanometre-sized nanocrystalline grains embedded in amorphous glassy shells—that exhibits a strength approaching the ideal theoretical limit.

    • Ge Wu
    • , Ka-Cheung Chan
    •  & Jian Lu
  • Letter |

    Suitably engineered mechanical metamaterials show static non-reciprocity—that is, the transmission of motion from one side to the other depends on the direction of that motion.

    • Corentin Coulais
    • , Dimitrios Sounas
    •  & Andrea Alù