Complex materials

complex materials hero

Could your business benefit from materials that use shape and structure as well as chemistry to achieve performance?

In addition to improving performance, the use of cellular structures often results in reductions in cost because less material is used.

With approaches like generative design, computer modelling and simulation, we can now develop materials with superior performance and properties that cannot be achieved through chemistry alone.

Cellular materials for reducing weight are well known, but structures that manipulate waves (light, thermal or sound) are just starting to come out of the lab and offer amazing properties like cloaking or improved sound and thermal insulation.

Traditional thinking has held that the properties and performance of materials were dictated by their chemistry. However, we are now finding that intelligent structural design can extend a material’s performance significantly, particularly if combined with ‘smart’ characteristics.

Case studies

Geothermal well cement

Geothermal well cementBusiness opportunity
It costs $10-15 million to drill a new geothermal well and some fail in a relatively short time, whereas the aim is a lifetime of more than 50 years.

What we did
Evaluated pozzolan additives to reduce the rate of cement corrosion, and developed a novel cement formulation with significantly better performance.

Result
The new pozzolan additive is now widely used. A successful proof of concept system was demonstrated. Further work is required to refine the formulation to get it market ready.

Designing cellular materials

Designing cellular materialsBusiness opportunity
To design cellular or porous materials that better match the mechanical properties of bone and enhance bio-integration.

What we are doing
We are building model structures and comparing the properties of real test pieces with computer simulations.

Result
A library of structure-property relationships that improve our ability to guide the design of cellular parts for implants and other applications. This library speeds up and de-risks our ability to advise businesses on how they can improve their products through the incorporation of cellular features.

Reducing home noise pollution through acoustic isolation

Reducing home noise pollution through acoustic isolationBusiness opportunity
Noise pollution is increasing due to factors including residential intensification and more traffic near homes. This has serious implications for people’s health, productivity and well-being in NZ and elsewhere.

What we did
Demonstrated large decreases in sound transmission through walls, floors and ceilings (~10-20 dB) by learning to extract the ‘magic’ properties of acousto-elastic metamaterials – effectively enabling unwanted sound to be dampened by half.

Result
We’ve successfully tested an in-wall proof of concept design and are now refining the model to target premium insulation products that are thinner and higher-performing. Initially these are useable in floor spaces and inter-tenancy walls, however, they will have many other applications.

Improving thermal Insulation

Improving thermal InsulationBusiness opportunity
Thinner thermal insulation that has the potential for being more easily retrofitted in existing buildings or applied for power electronics packaging.

What we did
We demonstrated that a designer nano-structured material provides many times more thermal resistance than the same material in bulk form.

Result
Compact premium insulation products that improve energy efficiency, comfort and health. They are superior to competitors (aerogels) due to increased robustness. We are currently in discussion with several potential customers.