Unraveling tensegrity tessellations for metamaterials with tunable stiffness and bandgaps

Ke Liu, Tomás Zegard, Phanisri P. Pratapa, Glaucio H. Paulino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Tensegrity structures resemble biological tissues: A structural system that holds an internal balance of prestress. Owing to the presence of prestress, biological tissues can dramatically change their properties, making tensegrity a promising platform for tunable and functional metamaterials. However, tensegrity metamaterials require harmony between form and force in an infinitely–periodic scale, which makes the design of such systems challenging. In order to explore the full potential of tensegrity metamaterials, a systematic design approach is required. In this work, we propose an automated design framework that provides access to unlimited tensegrity metamaterial designs. The framework generates tensegrity metamaterials by tessellating blocks with designated geometries that are aware of the system periodicity. In particular, our formulation allows creation of Class-1 (i.e., floating struts) tensegrity metamaterials. We show that tensegrity metamaterials offer tunable effective elastic moduli, Poisson's ratio, and phononic bandgaps by properly changing their prestress levels, which provide a new dimension of programmability beyond geometry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-166
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
StatePublished - Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


  • Class-1 tensegrity
  • Metamaterial
  • Programmable materials
  • Tensegrity lattice
  • Tunable material properties


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