Design of responsive materials using topologically interlocked elements

A. Molotnikov, R. Gerbrand, Y. Qi, G. P. Simon, Y. Estrin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


In this work we present a novel approach to designing responsive structures by segmentation of monolithic plates into an assembly of topologically interlocked building blocks. The particular example considered is an assembly of interlocking osteomorphic blocks. The results of this study demonstrate that the constraining force, which is required to hold the blocks together, can be viewed as a design parameter that governs the bending stiffness and the load bearing capacity of the segmented structure. In the case where the constraining forces are provided laterally using an external frame, the maximum load the assembly can sustain and its stiffness increase linearly with the magnitude of the lateral load applied. Furthermore, we show that the segmented plate with integrated shape memory wires employed as tensioning cables can act as a smart structure that changes its flexural stiffness and load bearing capacity in response to external stimuli, such as heat generated by the switching on and off an electric current.

Original languageEnglish
Article number025034
JournalSmart Materials and Structures
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • bending stiffness
  • responsive materials
  • segmented structures
  • shape memory effect
  • topological interlocking


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