Advanced Manufacturing and Metamaterials


Zheng Research Group


Department of Mechanical Engineering
635 Prices Fork Road
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Xiaoyu Rayne Zheng, Ph.D

Assistant Professor
About Us

Our group conducts research at the intersection of 3D fabrication technologies and 3D architected mechanical metamaterials. The aim of Zheng’s research is to advance the next generation of additive manufacturing (3D printing) technologies and design tools to enable the design, analysis, and fabrication of multi-scale, three-dimensional materials and systems that possess extraordinary and unique capabilities for structural, energy and biological applications. While we emphasize on new additive manufacturing capabilities and materials derived from fundamental physical, optical and mechanical principles, we also actively pursue applications of our technology in the areas of energy conversion, lightweight materials, biomaterials and microdevices. These materials contain multiple length-scales ranging from nano-meter to centimeters with precisely defined arbitrary micro-architectures.

Grad Students Involved

Huachen Cui
  • Advanced Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing technologies)

    Our primary research is to develop the next generation of high volume, scalable 3D micro/nano manufacturing technologies capable of fabrication materials with sub-micron resolutions. Fabrication and characterizations of these nano-structured hierarchical materials will be made possible by leveraging the unique opto-mechanical platforms for fabrication of highly complex, three-dimensional structures  with micro-scale architecture and submicron precision. Two distinct categories of feedstock material capabilities will be developed:   1) The ability to assemble a variety of intrinsic materials (polymer, metallic or alumina at~10-100nm) into a larger material (10cm-10mm) with three-dimensional arbitrary features.  2) 3D manufacturing of nanostructured material such as nanowires, nanocomposite, microparticles of aerogels and hydrogels with encapsulated biomolecules into three-dimensional object at the mm-cm scales.

  • Hierarchical Materials By Design

    Most commonly, material properties (such as density, mechanical, electrical and biological properties) are highly coupled in natural and man-made materials.  The second focus area of my research is to capitalize the unique benefits of material architectures spanning multiple hierarchical levels incorporating intrinsic nanoscale materials leading to new materials with vastly unclaimed properties. This task aims to elucidate how multi-scale design of hierarchical architectures, geometry and material compositions lead to new material property relationships.  High strength, ductility, defect tolerance and exotic thermal-mechanical properties can be designed from prudent choice of structural architectures and hierarchy. Distinct deformation mechanism, variable stiffness design, failure modes, defect and orientation sensitivities across multiple length scales within an ordered hierarchy are the key focuses of my study.

  • Multi-functional metamaterials and devices for energy

    Due to the hierarchical architected layout and the adaptation to a variety of material constituents, these new meta-materials that are engineered from a variety of intrinsic materials will have a large array of multi-functionality applications ranging from electric-mechancical energy conversion, tailored biodegradability, designed thermal-mechanical properties to bio-mechanical properties with adaptive stiffness of certain tissue and cell types. Efforts will be focused on the following areas 1) Biodegradable tunable microlattices for accelerated cell growth and wound healing 2) Functionally graded 3D material with biomolecules for biosecurity and countermeasures 3) 3D Flexible electronics for advanced sensing and actuation’s   4) Energy materials: hierarchical materials with ultra-high energy density for battery and catalyst applications


Laboratory address and students offices:

Advanced Manufacturing and Metamaterials
2270 Kraft Drive, Blacksburg, VA 24061

Department of Mechanical Engineering
College of Engineering, Virginia Tech
635 Prices Fork Road, Blacksburg, VA 24061