Skarsetz, O., Slesarenko, V., Walther, A.
Mechanical metamaterials recruit unique mechanical behavior that is unavailable in bulk materials from a periodic unit cell structure with a specific geometry. However, such metamaterials can typically not be reconfigured once manufactured. Herein, the authors introduce shape morphing of a hydrogel metamaterial via spatio-selective integration of responsive actuating elements to reconfigure the mesoscale unit cell geometry to reach programmable auxeticity on the macroscale. Via thermal control, the unit cell angle of a honeycomb structure can be precisely programmed from 68° to 107°. This results in negative, zero, or positive Poisson's ratio under applied tensile strain. The geometrical reconfiguration with resulting programmable auxeticity is predicted and verified by finite element (FE) simulation. This concept of shape-morphing hydrogel metamaterials via the addition of actuating struts into otherwise passive architectures offers a new strategy for reconfigurable metamaterials and extends applications of hydrogels in general. It can be readily extended to other architectures and may find applications in mechanical computing as well as soft robotics.