Dr. Bo Cao

Dr. Bo Cao

Research Area C

Cluster of Excellence livMatS @ FIT – Freiburg Center for Interactive Materials and Bioinspired Technologies


Programmable materials on the basis of mechanical meta-materials and smart materials

Project description
Programmable metamaterials display distinctive conditional behaviors through a combination of logical elements and functions. Thus, the implementation of nature-inspired materials systems with complex systems functions into engineering solutions gets within reach. Traditional artificial functional systems are less flexible in adapting to changes in the external environment when compared to biological plants that need to ensure survival and growth. However, programmable metamaterials with built-in logical conditions (for example if–then–else expressions) may make self-healing and self-repair functions available for engineering applications. In my research, I transfer biological mechanisms into programmable metamaterials and discuss the processes that are necessary for their implementation into technological solutions.

Project outcome
We recently present flow charts of selected plant models (i.g., D. copperi, A. macrophylla and E. tirucalli) exhibiting various self-sealing mechanisms based on hydraulics, mechanical instabilities and sap release. Based on the plant-inspired control flows, we identified technical statements to classify metamaterial mechanisms and unit cells of programmable mechanical metamaterials, which represent possible solutions for the single steps of sealing procedure in technical applications. Using a common language of flowcharts will simplify the transfer of functional principles found in plant models into technological applications. Programmable mechanical metamaterials expand the available design space of materials, putting us within reach of implementing self-sealing functions inspired by plants.

Prof. Dr. Chris Eberl

Bo Cao worked at livMats from October 2020 - April 2023.

Current position
As of April 2023, Associate Professor in the School of Civil Aviation at Northwestern Polytechnical University.

Publications in livMatS