Porous materials with engineered stretching-dominated lattice designs, which offer attractive mechanical properties with ultra-light weight and large surface area for wide-ranging applications, have recently achieved near-ideal linear scaling between stiffness and density. Here, rather than optimizing the microlattice topology, we explore a different approach to strengthen low-density structural materials by designing tube-in-tube beam structures. We develop a process to transform fully dense, three-dimensional printed polymeric beams into graphitic carbon hollow tube-in-tube sandwich morphologies, where, similar to grass stems, the inner and outer tubes are connected through a network of struts. Compression tests and computational modelling show that this change in beam morphology dramatically slows down the decrease in stiffness with decreasing density. In situ pillar compression experiments further demonstrate large deformation recovery after 30–50% compression and high specific damping merit index. Our strutted tube-in-tube design opens up the space and realizes highly desirable high modulus–low density and high modulus–high damping material structures.
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We thank J.-B. Forien, M. A. Worsley, C. Zhu and X. Zheng for helpful discussions. The work was performed under the auspices of the US Department of Energy by LLNL under contract no. DE-AC52-07NA27344. The project was supported by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) programme of LLNL (15-ERD-019) (to J.B.). L.L. and P.R.O. would like to acknowledge financial support from the Dutch Polymer Institute (DPI) through project no. 775. Y.M.W. was partially supported by NSF DMR-2104933.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Peer review information Nature Materials thanks Xiaoyan Li and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
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Supplementary Discussions, Figs. 1–23 and Tables 1–5.
STEM images of a STinT carbon beam with tilting angles from −71° to 71° with 2° steps.
TEM images of a STinT carbon beam with tilting angles from −67° to 68° with 3° steps.
A 3D reconstruction of a STinT carbon beam using TEM tomography.
In situ SEM compression on a 1:1 aspect ratio FCT STinT carbon pillar with pitch size of 10 μm.
Zoomed-in in situ SEM compression on a 1:1 aspect ratio SC STinT carbon pillar with pitch size of 10 μm.
In situ SEM flat-punch indent near edge of a SC STinT carbon plate with pitch size of 5 μm.
In situ SEM compression up to 10% strain on a 2.5:1 aspect ratio SC STinT carbon pillar with pitch size of 10 μm.
In situ SEM compression up to 30% strain on a 2.5:1 aspect ratio SC STinT carbon pillar with pitch size of 10 μm.
In situ SEM compression up to 50% strain on a 2.5:1 aspect ratio SC STinT carbon pillar with pitch size of 10 μm.
Raman spectra of STinT carbons.
Modulus versus density plots.
Raw data discussing relationships of Ni-layer thickness, STinT carbon density, modulus and mass ratio.
Raw data of engineering stress–strain curves.
Raw data of damping properties from our STinT carbon and references.
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Ye, J., Liu, L., Oakdale, J. et al. Ultra-low-density digitally architected carbon with a strutted tube-in-tube structure. Nat. Mater. 20, 1498–1505 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-021-01125-w
Nature Materials (2021)