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New Horizons: Novel Aperiodic Materials

Aperiodically ordered spatial arrangements open up fascinating opportunities of purpose-made structures, including smart materials.

Additive Manufacturing makes it possible to produce such materials cheaply and reliably, with potentially huge impact across a vast area of applications, such as bespoke orthopaedic implants, one of a kind space components and aerospace components produced from valuable raw materials.

The investigation of aperiodic metamaterials has only just begun, with an emphasis on photonic materials; there have been no attempts as yet to explore materials with superior mechanical properties based on aperiodic arrangements.

Our research on novel materials based on aperiodic structures is supported by an EPSRC New Horizons Grant.

This is an exciting interdisciplinary project led by Professor Uwe Grimm in collaboration with Dr Iestyn Jowers and Dr Richard Moat from the School of Engineering and Innvoation, who bring their expertise in Design and Materials Science to the team. The team will be joined by a postdoctoral researcher in 2021. We are also working closely with our colleague Dr Katie Chicot (who is also the CEO of MathsWorld UK) on developing public engagement materials for future exhibitions.

Aperiodic structures have a key advantage over conventional, lattice periodic arrangements: they can realise higher symmetries that are incompatible with lattice periodicity, making it possible to avoid anisotropies while maintaining a well-defined, deterministic, algorithmically reproducible structure.

This project is the starting point of a thorough exploration of the opportunities provided by these novel structures. We will create, establish, evaluate and verify mathematical models to determine the elastic properties of nearly isotropic cellular materials based on aperiodic tilings, laying the mathematical groundwork for future applications.