The Gu Research Group aims to create bio-inspired composite designs while exploring, and concurrently, exploiting the possible hierarchy, topology, and material heterogeneity that can be introduced into microarchitectures to enhance mechanical properties, such as stiffness, fracture, and fatigue. Studying the microarchitectures of natural materials such as nacre and conch shell sheds light on the millennia-long optimization product of evolution.
By fabricating bio-inspired designs using additive manufacturing and performing experiments to link form to function, it is possible to generate engineered structures with tunable material properties. As an example, lightweight and tough composites can be realized through a study in nature to create next generation protective gear and high-impact resistance composites. These concepts lay the foundation for our approach to design rationally toughened, strong, and lightweight materials for various applications. Thus, the main thrusts of our research are (1) bioinspired design, (2) constrained property optimization, and (3) machine learning driven design. Opening the design space of functional objects that can be printed will drive and revolutionize the face of additive manufacturing.