Soft Mechanical Metamaterials with Transformable Topology Protected by Stress Caching

Jason Christopher Jolly, Binjie Jin, Lishuai Jin, Young Joo Lee, Tao Xie, Stefano Gonella, Kai Sun, Xiaoming Mao, Shu Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Maxwell lattices possess distinct topological states that feature mechanically polarized edge behaviors and asymmetric dynamic responses protected by the topology of their phonon bands. Until now, demonstrations of non-trivial topological behaviors from Maxwell lattices have been limited to fixed configurations or have achieved reconfigurability using mechanical linkages. Here, a monolithic transformable topological mechanical metamaterial is introduced in the form of a generalized kagome lattice made from a shape memory polymer (SMP). It is capable of reversibly exploring topologically distinct phases of the non-trivial phase space via a kinematic strategy that converts sparse mechanical inputs at free edge pairs into a biaxial, global transformation that switches its topological state. All configurations are stable in the absence of confinement or a continuous mechanical input. Its topologically-protected, polarized mechanical edge stiffness is robust against broken hinges or conformational defects. More importantly, it shows that the phase transition of SMPs that modulate chain mobility, can effectively shield a dynamic metamaterial's topological response from its own kinematic stress history, referred to as “stress caching”. This work provides a blueprint for monolithic transformable mechanical metamaterials with topological mechanical behavior that is robust against defects and disorder while circumventing their vulnerability to stored elastic energy, which will find applications in switchable acoustic diodes and tunable vibration dampers or isolators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2302475
JournalAdvanced Science
Issue number22
StatePublished - Aug 4 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Advanced Science published by Wiley-VCH GmbH.


  • Maxwell lattices
  • polarized mechanical behavior
  • reconfigurable metamaterials
  • shape memory effect
  • topological mechanical metamaterials


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