Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Designing and Manufacturing Lightweight Multifunctional Structural Materials
System weight is a key determinant of the performance and operational endurance of mobile vehicles (e.g. drones, automobiles, etc.) and equipment (e.g. armor, golf clubs, etc.). For this reason, there has been an endless pursuit of lightweight material systems through methods such as alloying, composites development, and structural design. The latter, in particular, has been advanced significantly by the advent of additive manufacturing in recent years, due to 3D printing’s ability to realize a wide range of complex designs for testing without the need for expensive tooling. There has also been emerging interest in the strategy of using multifunctional materials to replace multiple dedicated materials for lightweight purposes, as well as to increase the functionality of structural materials.
In this talk, I will be sharing my team’s experience with designing lightweight, stiff and strong materials from first principles, the challenges faced with fabricating the designs, as well as developments on the material and design front to imbue the structures with additional properties such as negative Poisson’s ratio, compressive resilience, and electrochemical storage capabilities.
Dr. Lai received his B. Eng in Mechanical Engineering (NUS) in 2009, M.Eng in Materials Science and Engineering (MIT) in 2010, and Ph.D. in Advanced Materials for Micro- and Nano- Systems (NUS) in 2014. He then embarked on postdoctoral studies in Biomedical Engineering (NUS, 2015), Biosystems and Micromechanics (SMART, 2016), and Mechanical Metamaterials (ETH Zurich & Caltech, 2016 – 2017). He has been the Principal Investigator of Advanced Materials Design and Synthesis Lab since November 2017 and he joined the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, NTU, as an Assistant Professor in March 2021.
His current research interests lie mainly in materials design, additive manufacturing, machine learning, and sustainable materials. Dr. Lai has received multiple awards throughout his studies and research career, including the LKY, IES & PEB gold medals, the SMA Fellowship, the SMART Postdoctoral Fellowship, the Temasek Research Fellowship, and most recently, the Singapore Teaching and Academic Research Talent award. In addition to being a delegate for NTU at the Global Young Scientist Summit in 2019, he has given invited talks in École Polytechnique, Seoul National University, and various conferences as well.