|Daniel García (Carlos III University, Spain)
|Stephan Rudykh (University of Galway, Ireland)
Over the past years, we have been observing a revolution in the research and development of responsive materials that can react to external stimuli. Of special relevancy are soft materials that mechanically respond to electric or magnetic fields, temperature, humidity, pH, light, or a combination of these. These have the potential to undergo large deformations when active fields are applied remotely, making them ideal candidates for various innovative technical applications such as smart sensing devices, large-displacement actuators, and synthetic soft tissues for flexible electronics. These materials possess unique microstructures that can be optimized to further enhance their properties, especially in the case of magneto- and electro-active composites consisting of a soft matrix and embedded inclusions. With recent advancements in additive manufacturing, such as 3D printing, there are ample opportunities to design these materials intricately from the microscale, thus "programming" their macrostructural response. However, such a design process is extremely complex and needs to combine theoretical, computational, and experimental approaches to advance these materials.
Fuelled by the aforementioned advances, novel multifunctional structures are designed in the form of thin and slender components with the potential to undergo structural or material instabilities (i.e., buckling) in certain loading ranges. The resulting phenomena could, for example, be harnessed to arrive at very large deformations under rather small applied fields, making materials ready for even more efficient actuation and sensing purposes. The goal of this minisymposium is to bring together researchers from experiment, modelling and simulation in order to discuss recent advancements and new directions in the field. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to: