Abstract: Creation of extremely strong and simultaneously ultralightweight materials can be achieved by incorporating architecture into material design. In our research, we design and fabricate three-dimensional (3-D) nano-architected materials that can exhibit superior and often tunable thermal, photonic, electrochemical, and mechanical properties at extremely low mass densities (lighter than aerogels), which renders them useful, and often enabling, in many scientific pursuits and technological applications. The dominant properties of such meta-materials are driven by their multiscale nature: from characteristic material microstructure (atoms) to individual constituents (nanometers) to structural components (microns) to overall architectures (millimeters and above).
To harness the beneficial properties of 3-D nano-architected meta-materials, it is critical to assess their properties at each relevant scale while capturing overall structural complexity. Our research is focused on fabrication and synthesis of such architected materials using 3-D lithography, nanofabrication, and additive manufacturing techniques, as well as on investigating their mechanical, biochemical, electrochemical, electromechanical, and thermal properties as a function of architecture, constituent materials, and microstructural detail. We strive to uncover the synergy between the internal atomic-level microstructure and the nanosized external dimensionality, where competing material- and structure-induced size effects drive overall response and govern these properties. Specific discussion topics also include their applications in chemical and biological devices, ultralightweight energy storage systems, damage-tolerant fabrics, and smart, multifunctional materials.