|Benoit Roman (Sorbonne University, France)
|Matteo Pezzulla (Aarhus University, Denmark)
Mechanical systems can achieve high levels of compliance from either their material or geometrical properties, as for example in the case of a bulky but very soft sponge ball or a thin, slender, aluminum foil. The mechanics of soft materials and structures is currently the focus of renewed research efforts taking advantage of quickly evolving experimental techniques for design, fabrication, and characterization, as well as novel theoretical and computational tools for analysis. In particular, new materials with unprecedented mechanical properties are now combined with modern manufacturing techniques (e.g., molding, lithography, and 3D printing) to realize complex designs, which open a wide array of new opportunities. For instance, soft materials and structures can now be stimulated by electrostatic, physical-chemical, magnetic or fluid forces, giving rise to new applications and research questions because of the coupling between mechanics and other fields. Therefore, such material systems are promising candidates to envision as active structural components for soft robotics, shape-morphing structures, and compliant energy-harvesting devices. Soft materials also share comparable mechanical properties and, often, constitutive composition with biological tissues, and can therefore act as valuable model systems for their mechanical behavior. Another feature of soft mechanical systems is the relative importance of surface forces such as adhesion, and capillary effects, which may even become dominant.
This session aims at bringing together researchers sharing an interest in the mechanics and physics of soft materials and structures, which, despite diverse, share the common fundamental challenges of nonlinear mechanics (large strains, nonlinear constitutive behavior, and geometric nonlinearities) coupled with other intricate physical mechanisms.