Three-dimensional mechanical metamaterials with a twist

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Abstract

Rationally designed artificial materials enable mechanical properties that are inaccessible with ordinary materials. Pushing on an ordinary linearly elastic bar can cause it to be deformed in many ways. However, a twist, the counterpart of optical activity in the static case, is strictly zero. The unavailability of this degree of freedom hinders applications in terms of mode conversion and the realization of advanced mechanical designs using coordinate transformations. Here, we aim at realizing microstructured three-dimensional elastic chiral mechanical metamaterials that overcome this limitation. On overall millimeter-sized samples, we measure twists per axial strain exceeding 2°/%. Scaling up the number of unit cells for fixed sample dimensions, the twist is robust due to metamaterial stiffening, indicating a characteristic length scale and bringing the aforementioned applications into reach.

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