Architected materials are multi-phase and/or cellular materials in which the topological distribution of the phases is carefully controlled and optimized for specific functions or properties. Nearly two decades of research has resulted in the identification of a number of topologically simple, easy to fabricate, well established structures (including honeycombs and truss lattices), which have been optimized for specific stiffness and strength, impact and blast protection, sound absorption, wave dispersion, active cooling and combinations thereof.
Over the past few years, dramatic advances in processing techniques, including polymer-based templating (e.g., stereolithography, photopolymer waveguide prototyping, two-photon polymerization) and direct single- or multi-material formation (e.g., direct laser sintering, deformed metal lattices, 3D weaving and knitting), have enabled fabrication of new architected materials with complex geometry and remarkably precise control over the geometric arrangement of solid phases and voids from the nanometer to the centimeter scale.
The ordered, topologically complex nature of these materials and the degree of precision with which their features can now be defined suggests the development of new multi-physics and multi-scale modeling tools that can enable optimal designs. The result is efficient multi-scale cellular materials with unprecedented ranges of density, stiffness, strength, energy absorption, permeability, chemical reactivity, wave/matter interaction and other multifunctional properties, which promise dramatic advances across important technology areas such as lightweight structures, functional coatings, bio-scaffolds, catalyst supports, photonic/phononic systems and other applications.
Some of the most exciting recent developments in this field are the exploration of size effects in the development of nano-architected materials with superior combinations of properties, the investigation of geometrically complex unit cell architectures that enable non-linear effective mechanical response from linear-elastic materials, novel manufacturing approaches with increased resolution and scalability, and improved design optimization tools. Here we briefly review some recent progress in these areas, and conclude with some thoughts about opportunities for future development. The collection of articles in this focus issue is a wonderful exposure to some of the latest original work in this field.