Prototype Vibration Dampening Material Created
In some situations, a project requires certain vibrational properties and getting them requires carefully selecting the materials and using carefully engineered geometries. This can be limiting, especially if there is ever a need for the vibrational properties to change over time. Researchers at EMPA and ETH Zurich have recently created a prototype material that can have its vibrational properties programmed electronically.
The prototype consists of a long strip of sheet metal, one meter long, one centimeter wide, and one millimeter thick, with ten aluminum cylinders attached to it. Between the sheet metal and the cylinders are piezo discs. These discs can convert electrical energy into mechanical energy, so when they are electronically stimulated, they change in thickness. By manipulating the discs, the researchers were able to make the entire material behave as an adaptive phononic crystal, with the ability to change how vibrational frequencies are dampened on it.
As the material is currently just one dimensional, this research is just a step toward programmable materials. It does still show that it may be possible to build electronic circuits onto a material, so that it can react to vibrations to change its properties as needed.