Even though they are miles from the epicenter of an earthquake, buildings can collapse when an earthquake’s energy makes the ground shake and rattle. Engineers have designed a flexible material that can help buildings withstand multiple waves of energy traveling through a solid material including the simultaneous forward-and-backward and side-to-side motions found in earthquakes.
The elastic material can stretch and form to a particular surface, similarly to a wrap on a vehicle. It can be applied to the surface of an existing building to allow it to flex in an earthquake. The structured lattice-type material protects against both types of energy waves — longitudinal and sheer — that can travel through the ground.
The material also can be used by the defense industry to protect against vibration in mechanical parts such as aircraft or submarine engines. The research could lead to new strategies for steering mechanical waves away from critical regions in solid objects, which could enable novel capabilities in soldier protection and maneuvering.