Physicist Xiaoming Mao

What if a helmet could be programmed to direct collision impact to regions far from the skull while being a lighter-weight material?

What if body armor could suddenly transform into a state that can disperse greater impact when hit by a bullet, while being flexible in regular conditions?

A team of researchers led by the University of Michigan is looking to develop just that type of material using a five-year, $7.5 million grant from the Office of Naval Research, as part of the Department of Defense’s 2020 Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative program.

Xiaoming Mao, associate professor of physics in LSA, received the grant to bring her theoretical work of turning a kind of metamaterial the physical properties of which are changeable from the nanoscale to the macroscale.

Mao studies metamaterials, a type of material that gets its properties from the way the material is structured rather than the material itself. This means that, using the right method, the material can be constructed to have the particular property desired.

In this case, Mao has been designing a metamaterial that changes properties based on how an object comes into contact with it.

To read the entire article by Morgan Sherburne, please visit The University Record.

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Professor Xiaoming Mao