First step towards 'programmable materials': The working model used by the researchers consists of a one-meter by one-centimeter aluminum plate that is one millimeter thick. This sheet-metal strip can vibrate at different frequencies. In order to control the wave propagation, ten small aluminum cylinders (7 mm thick, 1 cm high) are attached to the metal. Between the sheet and the cylinders sit piezo discs, which can be stimulated electronically and change their thickness in a flash. This ultimately enables the team headed by project supervisor Andrea Bergamini to control exactly whether and how waves are allowed to propagate in the sheet-metal strip. The aluminum strip thus turns into a so-called adaptive phononic crystal – a material with adaptable properties.
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