Topologically interlocked material systems are two-dimensional granular crystals created as ordered and adhesion-less assemblies of unit elements of the shape of platonic solids. The assembly resists transverse forces due to the interlocking geometric arrangement of the unit elements. Topologically interlocked material systems yet require an external constraint to provide resistance under the action of external load. Past work considered fixed and passive constraints only. The objective of the present study is to consider active and adaptive external constraints with the goal to achieve variable stiffness and energy absorption characteristics of the topologically interlocked material system through an active control of the in-plane constraint conditions. Experiments and corresponding model analysis are used to demonstrate control of system stiffness over a wide range, including negative stiffness, and energy absorption characteristics. The adaptive characteristics of the topologically interlocked material system are shown to solve conflicting requirements of simultaneously providing energy absorption while keeping loads controlled. Potential applications can be envisioned in smart structure enhanced response characteristics as desired in shock absorption, protective packaging and catching mechanisms.


This is an author-created, un-copyedited version of an article accepted for publication/published in "Smart Materials and Structures." IOP Publishing Ltd is not responsible for any errors or omissions in this version of the manuscript or any version derived from it. The Version of Record is available online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/0964-1726/24/4/045037.

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