A computational approach to the creation of digital matter

Jochen Mueller

Human creativity, combined with bioinspiration and modern, computational tools is now able to  derive the most captivating designs, elevating both structural appearance and functionality to  unprecedented levels. The physical realization of these designs, however, remains a  bottleneck. On the other end, the grand challenge in manufacturing is to create a process that is  economical, fast, repeatable, and that enables the desired design freedom in both geometric  complexity and choice of materials. Digital Fabrication and, in particular, Additive Manufacturing  (AM) has emerged as a potent alternative to conventional manufacturing and is considered by  many the holy grail. Despite this hype, however, AM still lacks behind the expectations and is  often not able to handle the required complexity, which significantly limits progress in major  research fields.

In my talk, I will address both the digital design of novel materials and structures with  outstanding properties, and the fabrication thereof. First, I will present recent research that  shows how the mutual exclusivity between strength and toughness can be overcome in  mechanical metamaterials and how we can integrate (multi-)functionality, such as actuation and  sensing, on a materials-level. Second, I will demonstrate AM-based solutions specifically  tailored to these design paradigms that cannot be fabricated in any other way. Third, I will  address the general limitations of AM and show how they can be (partially) overcome, with the  ultimate goal of solving the grand challenge. Finally, I will outline potential next steps and  provide a perspective on how the proposed approaches can dictate the future direction of the  whole field.


Jochen Mueller is a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University and the Wyss Institute for  Biologically Inspired Engineering, where he has joint appointments with Katia Bertoldi and  Jennifer Lewis. Jochen’s research focuses on the computational design and fabrication of  (mechanical) metamaterials and structures with outstanding physical properties and new  functionalities. Examples include the development of innovative 3D printing processes,  multiscale lattice materials, and novel design optimization algorithms. Jochen’s work has been  published in journals like Advanced Materials, Nature, and PNAS, and covered by major media  outlets, such as the Boston Globe and NBC.

Prior to joining Harvard University, Jochen obtained a doctorate with Kristina Shea from the  Engineering Design and Computing (EDAC) group at ETH Zurich and was awarded the ETH  medal for outstanding dissertations. Jochen graduated with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree  with distinction from Albstadt-Sigmaringen University and Imperial College London,  respectively, both in Mechanical Engineering.


February 17, 2020


12:30 p.m.


Bowen Hall / 222