Nonlinear Multimaterial Architecture for Greater Soft Material's Toughness and Delaying Damage Propagation

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Designing soft robots that have greater toughness and better resistance to damage propagation while at the same time retaining their properties of compliance is fundamentally important for soft robotics applications. This study's main contribution is proposing a framework for nonlinear multimaterial architectural design of soft structures to increase their toughness and delay damage propagation. What are the limits when combining significantly different materials in one structure that will delay crack propagation while significantly maintaining postdamage toughness? Through this study, we observed that there is a very dynamic interplay when combining significantly different materials in one structure; this interplay could weaken or strengthen the multimaterial structure's toughness. In biological evolutionary terms, the Pangolin, Seashell, and Arapaima have found their answer for deflecting the crack and maintaining strength in their bodies. How does nature put these multimaterial structures together? Our research led us to find that the multimaterial toughness limits depend largely on the following parameters: components' relative morphology, architecture, spatial distribution, surface areas, and Young's Modulus. We found that a linear geometry, when it comes to morphology and/or architecture relative to surface area in multimaterial design, significantly reduces total toughness and fails to delay crack propagation. In contrast, incorporating geometric nonlinearities in both morphology and architecture significantly maintains higher total toughness even after damage, and significantly delays crack propagation. We believe that this study can open the door to further research and ultimately to promising and wide applications in soft robotics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalSoft Robotics
Issue number0
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 May 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is supported by the EU Marie Curie ITN project SMART .

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright 2023, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.

Copyright 2023 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • soft robotics
  • embodied intelligence
  • multimaterial architecture
  • toughness


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