Mechanical and Civil Engineering Seminar
Ordered sequences of motions govern the morphological transitions of a wide variety of natural and man-made systems, while the ability to interpret time-ordered signals underlies future smart materials that can be (re)programmed and process information. Here we introduce two novel classes of mechanical metamaterials, that can (1) exhibit sequential output and (2) are sensitive to sequential input. To obtain metamaterials that translate a global uniform compression into a precise multistep pathway of reconfigurations, we combine strongly nonlinear mechanical elements with a multimodal hierarchical structure, and demonstrate multi-step reconfigurations of digitally manufactured metamaterials. To obtain metamaterials that are sensitive to a sequence of mechanical inputs, we introduce the notion of non-commuting metamaterials, and show their capability for storing and processing information. Our work establishes generic principles for infusing metamaterials with sequential input and output.