SBIR Phase I: MetaMaterial for Seismic Energy Absorption

Period of Performance: 07/01/2017 - 06/30/2018


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

MetaSeismic, Inc.
5141 California Ave Ste 250 Array
Irvine, CA 92617
Firm POC, Principal Investigator


This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will investigate isolation pads made of a novel class of metamaterials to reduce seismic vibrations of equipment and buildings. Use of traditional seismic isolation materials often leads to restricted design spaces and needs expensive full-scale device testing, which make the technology unfeasible for extensive application. The internal architecture of the high-performance materials to be studied and optimized in this work can enlarge the design space to embrace objects as small as an expensive equipment and as large as a major bridge. Simplification of testing protocols due to the shift of the isolation property from the device to the material level adds to the Broader Impacts by making seismic isolation accessible for a wide range of applications. The high level of seismic protection provided by this technology constitutes an immediate value for commercial activities that require continuity of operations after earthquakes. The initial target is the fast growing market of data centers, with the potential for follow-on market in residential housing construction. The extensive application of the innovation has the potential of increasing the resiliency of communities in areas prone to seismic activity and reducing related direct and indirect losses. The intellectual merit of this project derives from the development of an optimization framework for the internal architecture of metamaterials for enhanced seismic protection. There has not been a fundamental study to optimize metamaterials based on manufacturing tolerances, costs, and performance for seismic applications. This work will contribute to developing a set of design principles for optimized internal material architectures depending on desired seismic performance. Experimental investigations will be carried out to validate the methodology and to prove the feasibility of replacing device testing with material coupon testing to certify metamaterial pads for seismic isolation. This will include the investigation of processing methods to manufacture material assemblies with uniform mechanical properties, and will involve both static and dynamic testing of the material. The key technical objectives of the project are 1) the development of the optimization design framework based on manufacturing and seismic performance constraints, and 2) the material testing protocol to verify scalability and defect insensitivity of the material property. It is anticipated that the metamaterial architecture can be modulated to provide seismic isolation property beyond state of the art seismic isolation devices, and can be scaled from material coupons to large assemblies without significant property modification.