I am an Associate Professor at the University of Salerno, Department of Civil Engineering.
My current research activities are devoted to the computational design, modeling and manufacturing of multiscale innovative materials and structures in engineering fields where current knowledge of such systems is only partial. I study lattice structures at different scales, to form cellular solids; devices; fibers and fabrics; and building-scale structures.
A modeling research line of my research project studies the effects of internal and external prestress on nonlinear lattice mechanics, with the aim of designing arbitrary lattice behaviors. Material-scale applications of multiscale lattices deal with novel dynamic devices and hierarchical composite materials. A structure-scale application exploits lattices with morphing abilities to design adaptable envelopes for energy efficient buildings.
Recently I have been interested in studying a novel approaches to sound focusing and the dynamic protection of materials and structures through ultra-compact compression and rarefaction solitary waves. This project is aimed at deepening the fundamental understanding of how stress and mechanical waves propagate in nonlinear tensegrity metamaterials and then exploit this knowledge to create unprecedented mechanical and acoustic devices. My research in this area is motivated by nature, where tensegrity systems are ubiquitous and appear in every cell—whether in the microstructure of a spider’s silk or in the arrangement of bones and tendons to control locomotion. Making use of self-similarity concepts, bio-inspired design, and the highly nonlinear response of tensegrity building blocks, the ongoing research develops ground-breaking metamaterials for applications in structural engineering, robotics, impact protection, and sound focusing.
Another area of recent research regards the design and mechanical modeling of bio-inspired seismic isolators that protect buildings from seismic waves, through arrays of units replicating the mechanics of the human body. This work has been highlighted in Nature, see: The 3D print job that keeps quake damage at bay (nature.com)). This activity is complemented by the study on the use of tensegrity bracing systems to create innovative wind-resistant structures. This technology consists of lightweight and high-strength systems with re-centering capabilities formed by a variety of sustainable tensegrity systems equipped with energy dissipating cables and struts, designed via fractal geometry (Ref. link).
Previously, I have extensively studied the mechanical properties of dense, vertically aligned carbon nanotube (CNT) assemblies, through the formulation of a mechanical model directly inspired by the micromechanical response reported experimentally for such structures.
The first video that follows describes the post-tensioning of 3D-printed tensegrity columns manufactured in the Ti6Al4V titanium alloy with Spectra fibers (see READ MORE below). A second video illustrates an experiment on the dynamics of a tensegrity column impacted by a striker. Ref.; Frontiers | On the Mechanical Modeling of Tensegrity Columns Subject to Impact Loading (frontiersin.org)). The picture underneat such a video describes the results of an analytic study on the profiles of compression solitary waves traveling in tensegrity lattices: (a) Tensegrity mass-spring chain. (b) Fitting of the tensegrity potential (blue-dashed curve) with a tensegrity-like potential (red-solid curve). (c) Strain wave profiles in tensegrity-like chains for different wave-speeds. Ref. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijnonlinmec.2022.104264.
The subsequent video illustrates a motion animation of a demonstrative version of the metaisolator illustrated in the Nature article The 3D print job that keeps quake damage at bay (nature.com). It is followed by a picture of the team that has developed this project (from right to left: Prof. Fernando Fraternali, myself, Prof. Graeme Milton and Dr. Narinder Singh). I am holding a physical model of the metaisolator in my hands.
The final pic shown at the bottom of this page shows a parade of internally prestressed meta-braces designed through parametric approaches and fractal geometry (left), together with an illustration of belt trusses strengthening a wind-resistant building (right). It is followed by a movie illustrating the response to lateral displacements of a timber frame equipped with tensegrity braces incorporating shape memory alloy cables (link).