MetaLab Research Group

Our research group focuses on developing new materials capable of responding to external stimuli by altering their properties in a predictable manner on demand. We are interested in current topics of reconfigurable mechanical metamaterials and bio-inspired materials, as well as fundamental issues of failure, instability, and wave propagation in materials. We engineer new materials and metamaterials by harnessing sophisticated structure-property relationships, while machine learning assists us in this task. We perform experimental, numerical, and theoretical studies, actively engaging in interdisciplinary collaborations with other research teams.


Our class is the best again!

Okay, the semester is over, and it marks another teaching success. For two consecutive semesters, my classes have been rated the best in Microsystems Engineering and Embedded Systems Engineering programs! During the summer semester, it was the brand-new class “Machine Learning Approaches in Structural Mechanics”. This winter semester, I took the lead in the “MicroMechanics” class. I would like to express my immense gratitude to my PhD students, without whom I would never have achieved the top place twice in a row. Gerrit Felsch was absolutely instrumental in creating practice coding exercises for the “ML in SM” class (I can’t even imagine how much time it took!). David Schwarz was invaluable in teaching the MicroMechanics class and guiding the students during practice sessions! I also thank Prof. Lars Pastewka for entrusting me with leading his course and for the amount of teaching materials already prepared by him and his predecessors!

If you are interested, check out the evaluations and student feedbacks for both courses below! Don’t forget that in Germany, 1 is the highest grade, while 5 (or 6) is the lowest. 🙂

ML in SM (SS23) and MicroMechanics (WS23/24)

MasterLab 8.0

The Cluster of Excellence started a new iteration of the MasterLab program for talented Master’s Students. We are lucky to have Ms. Priyanshi Malvinya and Mr. Pawel Ostrowski on our team! Priyanshi will work on web-based visualization of mechanical materials. Pawel has already started to work with Michael on the self-organization and self-assembly using bristle-bots moving on a vibrating table.

Cool things are ahead of us! Let’s see how much we will be able to achieve in six months together!

Generative models struggle with kirigami

We are seeing an enormous progress in generative models. Take a look at Midjourney, Dall-E, Stable Diffusion and very recently Sora from OpenAI. It is not surprising that similar approaches become popular for designing structures and metamaterials. But why don’t we see generative models capable of creating kirigami metamaterials? After struggling for more than two years, Gerrit pinpoints the exact reason for it and also highlights some “survivorship bias” existing in modern literature on the generative models for metamaterials. If you want to learn more, take a look at our preprint here.

Our paper is published in Acta Mechanica

Our short and quite neat paper has been published in Acta Mechanica. Led by Indre Jödicke, this research project takes a somewhat different perspective on truss-based metamaterials. With advancements in additive manufacturing, the components of these metamaterials are becoming increasingly smaller, occasionally too small for reliable fabrication. Our study explores whether slight alterations in lattice geometry can circumvent these fabrication challenges. Using a minimal viable case, we demonstrate that sometimes being anisotropic is actually good 🙂 Check out the paper here.

Congratulations to all the co-authors for pushing this project forward despite numerous challenges along the way. It has been an interesting journey that began with an overambitious goal, which was amended as we gained a better understanding of the problem. A priceless learning experience indeed!

What a nice start of the year!

It’s very nice to start the New Year with a paper in Science! Check out ( our perspective paper by Lars Pastewka and me, in which we comment on the amazing manuscript by Antoine Aymard, Emilie Delplanque, Davy Dalmas, and Julien Scheibert ( They’ve developed a very inspiring and robust way of designing friction metainterfaces using asperities with different heights. We hint at the future of frictional metainterfaces, drawing insights from the evolution of mechanical metamaterials.

Another paper in Materials & Design!

I am happy to share with you David’s first paper devoted to metamaterials with switchable auxeticity. The trick is simple—just exploit self-contact between elements to trigger topological changes! What can we do with this effect? Check out our paper or watch the video below!

New paper on 4D printing

Please check a very interesting recent paper from Bastian Rapp’s group devoted to the development of shape memory polymers for morphing structures and soft robotics. I contributed a bit with simulations, but the main credits go to the amazing Qingchuan Song, who is a real magician. Please find it in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces or download it here.

Conferences, conferences, …

Our work with Gerrit has been presented in two conferences. First, I visited the beautiful city of Alghero, and then together, we attended the first AI MSE conference in SaarbrĂĽcken. You can see my talk below (although not in the best quality).

We love curves! And publish papers about them 🙂

I’m excited to share that my paper titled “Bandgap Structure in Elastic Metamaterials with Curvy Bezier Beams” has been successfully published in the special issue “Fundamentals and Applications of Metamaterials: Breaking the Limits” of Applied Physics Letters. Here, I examined how altering the geometry of beams in lattice-based metamaterials can affect the tunability of bandgaps.. An intriguing revelation from this research is the clear differentiation in how different frequency ranges react to changes in beam geometry. To get a better idea what is shown in the figure below, I invite you to explore my manuscript available here.

My new class of “Machine Learning in Structural Mechanics” totally rocks!

This semester, Mr. Gerrit Felsch and I collaborated to develop an entirely new course centered around the application of Machine Learning in Structural Mechanics. The course comprises 13 lectures and 12 practical sessions, all aimed at providing students with a comprehensive understanding of modern ML methods and enabling them to implement these techniques for various challenges within materials science, mechanical engineering, and civil engineering. Following the students’ feedback and evaluations, we are thrilled to announce the resounding success of our dedicated efforts. The average grade achieved falls within the range of 1.2-1.4, indicating an exceptionally high level of performance. Additionally, more than 80% of the students have nominated me for the “Teaching Award,” which is truly gratifying. You can find the whole evaluation here. Stay tuned for more news and, perhaps, online lectures on Youtube.

A heartfelt thank you goes out to Gerrit for his invaluable contributions to the development of this course!

Presentation in CTU Prague

I had the immense pleasure of delivering a talk at a seminar hosted by Prof. Jan Zeman in Prague! The Open Mechanics Group at CTU Prague is at the forefront of tackling highly advanced challenges in mechanics, making it well worth exploring their remarkable array of publications.!

Great work, David and Sarah!

Two amazing students from Penn State have been working in our group for two months on very exciting topics of structural health monitoring in metamaterials and enigmatic unrolling of scotch tape! We are looking forward to continuing collaboration and publishing new manuscripts!

Welcome, Michael!

Dr. Michael Somr from Czech Technical University in Prague joined our team for six months to collaborate on very thrilling topic of bristle bots. If you don’t know what is “bristlebot”, stay tuned for our oncoming publications! 🙂

Welcome back, guys

Gerrit and David just returned back from a very productive two-week research visit to our colleagues at Czech Technical University in Prague. We are looking forward to their exciting stories!

From Rising Stars to Brightest Stars!

Wow! Our teammate Dr. Edoardo Milana just got promoted to W1 Junior Professor position at IMTEK, University of Freiburg! Our sincere congratulations!

Welcome Lukas!

Mr. Lukas KĂĽrner joined our team to work on very interesting (and still secret :)) project together with Kayiang and Qingchuan!

Another paper published!

Our paper “Controlling auxeticity in curved-beam metamaterials via a deep generative model” has been published in esteem journal of “Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering”. Here we propose a deep generative model enabling us to efficiently design various metamaterials. Congratulations to Gerrit with his first first-author publication! Well done! You can find pdf here.

New manuscript

Our brief perspective paper, in collaboration with Dr. Falk Tauber, has been published in “Frontiers in Robotics and AI”. Here we discuss the challenges of soft robotics from the perspective of researchers who are relatively new in this field, presenting both positive and negative aspects of current trends in soft robots.

Preprint released

We published preprint titled “Controlling auxeticity in curved-beam metamaterials via a deep generative model” here. Thanks Gerrit, Naeim and David for great work!

Welcome Edoardo!

Dr. Edoardo Milana joined our group! He won prestigious Walther Benjamin DFG fellowship and will work with us on soft robotics. Check out his amazing research here.

Welcome Adam!

Mr. Adam Racz joined our team to work on collaborative project with our colleagues from Penn State.

Visiting researcher

We are happy to welcome Dr. Michael Somr from Czech Technical University in Prague. Check out his cool works

Welcome David!

Mr. David Schwarz joined our group as PhD student. He will work on the mechanical metamaterials with advanced functionalities on demand.

Joshua’s Defense

Mr. Sabbathi Joshua Nikhil successfully defended his Master’s thesis titled “Harnessing plasticity in energy-harvesting mechanical metamaterials”. Congratulations, Joshua!

Our manuscript is published in Advanced Science!

Great news on the first day of summer! Our work with Prof. Dr. Andreas Walter and Mr. Oliver Skarsetz from University of Mainz has been published!

Check it out here

Adaptive architecture

Our collaborative project with Prof. Mariantonieta Gutierrez Soto from Penn State “Hiding form Earthquakes with an Adaptive Metabarrier” has been selected for participation in Adaptive Architecture Idea Incubator. I am looking forward to exploring this new exciting topic!

New manuscript!

A new manuscript titled “Emergence of instability-driven domains in soft stratified materials” has been published in prestigious journal npj Computational Materials. Together with my colleagues, we studied formation of involved patterns in composite deformable composite materials.

Freiburg Rising Stars

I am very happy to participate as host in DFG and BMBF program “Freiburg Rising Stars”. Together with Dr. Edoardo Milana, we are going to work on soft robots, driven by metamaterials. More details are here.

How does this robot crawl up?

Together with Mr. Aryan Rana, we 3D-printed this interesting robot. Can you guess what drives its motion?

Success of MasterLab Program

Ms. Kajal Jain and Mr. Baris Erol for last six months have been working on small but very exiting projects in our lab. Baris studied propagation of the elastic waves in tillable metamaterials. Kajal developed an automated setup enabling us to study interaction between multiple permanent magnets and self-assembly on mesoscale level. Thanks both of you for your dedication and awesome results!

Congratulations, Gerrit!

The abstract “Generative design of perforated mechanical metamaterials” was accepted for oral talk on prestigious 11th European Solid Mechanics Conference in Galway, Ireland. Good job, Gerrit!

Welcome Joshua!

Mr. Sabbathi Joshua Nikhil joined our team as Master’s student to work on his thesis devoted to plasticity and failure in mechanical metamaterials. Stay tuned for new results!

New testing machine

We received new Universal Testing machine Zwick&Roell for mechanical testing of our structures and mechanical metamaterials. Check out photos at the Equipment tab.

Laboratory on the News

Our research and recently initiated Spaghetti Project were highlighted on the news! Check out this episode

Spaghetti Project

As the part of Freiburger Wissenschaftsmarkt we presented a public science “Spaghetti-Project”! Everyone can contribute to this project by performing simple experiment at home and submitting the results. If we gather enough data, you will be a co-author of the scientific manuscript!

Check out the details of this project here

Welcome Gerrit!

Mr. Gerrit Felsch joined our group as PhD student. He will work on the adaptive mechanical metamaterials that can be reprogrammed after manufacturing.

Welcome Indre!

Ms. Indre Jödicke joined our team to work on booster project “Heterogeneity as an ally against defects”. She will study the lattice materials that are tolerant to the manufacturing defects

New equipment

We received new equipment, including 3D printers, CCD camera, modal shaker, ICP accelerometers, and many other smaller things.