UW-Madison chemists chosen as part of Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative

By Tatum Lyles Flick
Communications Specialist

A group of UW-Madison chemists have been selected to participate in a Department of Defense Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) for the United States Army. This fundamental research, which begins in May, will explore new material combinations and responsive material designs. The total award for the project is $6.25 million over five years, with $1.03 million going to the Boydston group at UW-Madison and the rest to researchers at partner institutions.

AJ Boydston
Professor AJ Boydston

The project, titled Triggering Outstanding Properties via Mechanical Adaptive Topologies (TOPMAT): Towards Dynamically Self-Amplifying Omniphoric Multiscale Metamaterials is made up of researchers from University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of California San Diego, Duke University, University of Chicago and University of Michigan, and includes scientists with expertise in mechanical engineering, 3D printing, material science, and dynamic and nonlinear mechanics.

The UW-Madison researchers will use their expertise in responsive materials and 3D printing to “answer fundamental questions about how materials behave as a function of their macroscopic architecture – or structure and ability to dissipate energy,” explained chemistry professor AJ Boydston. “We will evaluate how responses at a molecular level translate to the macroscopic level.”

They will train the other researchers to integrate nontraditional materials into 3D printing, and then study the responses of those materials to environmental signals, such as mechanical load or acoustic shock wave.

The researchers hope the results support development of damage mitigating materials for the United States Army – increasing the safety of those working for the Armed Forces. The project builds on work that former Boydston group student Johanna Schwartz did with new chemical modalities for multimaterial 3D printing.

The Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) was created by the United States Department of Defense to fund research with collaborations between different areas of science and engineering, and with the goal of facilitating and hastening research and development breakthroughs for use by the United States Army. More information can be found here: https://www.arl.army.mil/business/muri/