Since the discovery of graphene, 2D materials have gained significant attention due to their exceptional electrical and mechanical properties. Researchers have since proposed a variety of 2D heterostructures consisting of multiple crystal layers held together by weak inter-layer forces and displaying a significantly more complex dynamical behavior than their single-layer counterparts. Recently, cutting edge ultrafast TEM experiments have uncovered a rich palette of intriguing acoustic phenomena, whose theoretical understanding is however hampered by the inherent material complexity (incoherent layers, weak nonlinear interactions, defects, etc.). Conducting experiments directly at the nanoscale is challenging as specimens are hard to manufacture and controlled excitations are difficult to prescribe with accuracy.
In response to these challenges, the idea of Gonella, Tadmor and Flannigan is to complement the conventional approaches for this kind of systems with a new paradigm based on the realization and testing of macroscopic structural proxies (or analogues) of the nanoscale heterostructures. The proxies are to be designed to retain the salient mechanical attributes of their nanoscale counterparts, while scaling up their geometric features to a scale that allows for agile experimentation using conventional structural dynamics techniques. A natural tool towards this goal is provided by acousto-elastic metamaterials, which can be agilely fabricated in a plethora of configurations thanks to recent advances in 3D printing. This bridging exercise between macro and nanoscale will simultaneously help shedding light on the intricate dynamics occurring at the nanoscale and potentially contribute to a new generation of nano-inspired metastructures.
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