We propose to develop novel, ultra-lightweight, multifunctional cellular solids (i.e., foams or sponge) utilizing two-dimensional heterogeneous materials also known as van der Waals heterogeneous structures (VDWHSs). These are multi-layered, atomic-thin materials composed of different types of base-materials, like a stack of papers of different colors where each colored sheet represent a specific material, in conjunction with advanced 3D-printing technologies. The intended applications are for electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding, such as stealthiness under radar, lightening protection for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and marine surface vehicles, as well as mechanical vibration suppression for underwater vehicles. The technology will have wider implications for national defense.
The core technological innovation is to find one or more VDWHS systems with high electrical conductivity and put this material to form cellular solids where its internal microstructure is optimized by design for electromagnetic wave shielding and for mechanical wave suppression. The optimized scaffold of internal structure is produced by 3D printing and later removed after coating with VDWHS, leaving a cellular solid of purely VDWHS. We will address two key research challenges: (a) to design, synthesize, and characterize novel VDWHSs; and (b) to design, develop, and characterize cellular solids made of VDWHS for the aforementioned aims. At the conclusion of the project, we expect to deliver a novel technology for producing a material with high effectiveness for EMI shielding, lightening protection, as well as for mechanical vibration suppression with designated band gaps. In addition, we will be training a few Emirati students at the undergraduate and master level and produce three to four technical papers in leading international journals.