Stress focusing and damage protection in topological Maxwell metamaterials

Caleb Widstrand, Chen Hu, Xiaoming Mao, Joseph Labuz, Stefano Gonella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Advances in the field of topological mechanics have highlighted a number of special mechanical properties of Maxwell lattices, including the ability to focus zero-energy floppy modes and states of self-stress (SSS) at their edges and interfaces. Due to their topological character, these phenomena are protected against perturbations in the lattice geometry and material properties, which makes them robust against the emergence of structural non-idealities, defects, and damage. Recent computational work has shown that the ability of Maxwell lattices to focus stress along prescribed SSS domain walls can be harnessed for the purpose of protecting other regions in the bulk of the lattice from detrimental stress concentration and, potentially, inhibiting the onset of fracture mechanisms at stress hot spots such as holes and cracks. This property provides a powerful, geometry-based tool for the design of lattice configurations that are robust against damage and fracture. In this work, we provide a comprehensive experiment-driven exploration of this idea in the context of realistic structural lattices characterized by non-ideal, finite-thickness hinges. Our experiments document the onset of pronounced domain wall stress focusing, indicating a remarkable robustness of the polarization even in the presence of the dilutive effects of the structural hinges. We also demonstrate that the polarization protects the lattice against potential failure from defected hinges and cracks in the bulk. Finally, we illustrate numerically the superiority of SSS domain walls compared to other trivial forms of reinforcements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112268
JournalInternational Journal of Solids and Structures
StatePublished - Jul 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd


  • Damage protection
  • Kagome
  • Maxwell lattice
  • Metamaterial
  • Periodic structures
  • Stress concentration
  • Tensile testing
  • Topological mechanics


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