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Programmable Mechanical Properties

Scientists at Leiden University have developed ‘metamaterials’, materials with new and surprising properties.

These properties follow from the shape of these materials - so a rubber sheet with holes has properties completely different from the rubber itself.

Specifically, the pink metamaterial shown above, consisting of a piece of rubber with a carefully tuned array of holes, has a mechanical response that can be completely changed (programmed) by using clamps (blue). Depending on the clamping strength, the material can be tuned from elastic to plastic (damping), and can have both a positive stiffness (like ordinary rubber) as well as a negative stiffness (which leads to switching).

The scientists foresee possible applications in impact damping and materials that can switch between different stiffnesses and shapes. The geometry of the material dominates the mechanical response, hence other materials can be used to obtain similar results. Several other related ideas are pursued at the moment, and partners are welcome and sought after.

Key benefits

  • Tuneable mechanics
  • Novel method of energy dissipation
  • Material stays intact
  • Negative stiffness decreases the dynamic stiffness
  • Other elastic materials can be used
  • calable to large and small systems
  • Scalable to large and small sizes


  • Prosthetics
  • Shoe soles
  • Impact damping

Development stage

Proof-of-principle has been obtained, further development is ongoing. We are looking for partners to develop specific applications for commercial products in the market

Luris reference number


Patent status

Patent application can be done together with partner

Data available on request

Please contact us for more detailed information

Further information

Frits Fallaux Senior Knowledge Broker +31-71-527 2517 Room number: 1.13