Conformal elasticity of mechanism-based metamaterials

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Reference M. Czajkowski, C. Coulais, M. van Hecke and D.Z. Rocklin, Conformal elasticity of mechanism-based metamaterials, Nature Commun. 13, (1), 211: 1-9 (2022)
Group Mechanical Metamaterials

Deformations of conventional solids are described via elasticity, a classical field theory whose form is constrained by translational and rotational symmetries. However, flexible metamaterials often contain an additional approximate symmetry due to the presence of a designer soft strain pathway. Here we show that low energy deformations of designer dilational metamaterials will be governed by a scalar field theory, conformal elasticity, in which the nonuniform, nonlinear deformations observed under generic loads correspond with the well-studied—conformal—maps. We validate this approach using experiments and finite element simulations and further show that such systems obey a holographic bulk-boundary principle, which enables an analytic method to predict and control nonuniform, nonlinear deformations. This work both presents a unique method of precise deformation control and demonstrates a general principle in which mechanisms can generate special classes of soft deformations.