New mechanical ‘metamaterial’ developed at Tel Aviv University may revolutionize prosthetics and wearable technologies
Ill-fitting joint sockets, contact dermatitis and sebaceous cysts are just a few of the problems plaguing prosthetic patients. They are all a result of the pressure that their prosthetic devices place on the soft tissue of their bodies.
Now researchers at Tel Aviv University, FOM Institute AMOLF and Leiden University in the Netherlands have developed a new approach to manufacturing mechanical “metamaterials” — synthetic composite materials with structures and properties not usually found in natural materials — that can be programmed to deform in a uniquely complex manner.
The breakthrough may have future applications in soft robotics and wearable technologies — and may lead to more close-fitting, comfortable and user-friendly prosthetics. The research was published this week in the journal Nature.
Putting a smile on a cube
Dr. Yair Shokef of TAU’s School of Mechanical Engineering and Prof. Martin van Hecke of Leiden University and AMOLF, the Netherlands, illustrated their approach through a three-dimensional printing of a metamaterial cube. A smiley-face pattern emerged on the side of the cube when it was compressed between custom-patterned surfaces.