Creation of extremely strong yet ultra-light materials can be achieved by capitalizing on the hierarchical design of 3-dimensional nano-architectures. Such structural metamaterials exhibit superior thermomechanical properties at extremely low mass densities (lighter than aerogels), making these solid foams ideal for many scientific and technological applications. The dominant deformation mechanisms in such “meta-materials,” where individual constituent size (nanometers to microns) is comparable to the characteristic microstructural length scale of the constituent solid, are essentially unknown. To harness the lucrative properties of 3-dimensional hierarchical nanostructures, it is critical to assess mechanical properties at each relevant scale while capturing the overall structural complexity.
An interview with Dr. Greer about her work and this talk are available here.