Daraio Research Group Caltech



Daraio's lab is primarily interested in:
  • Developing a physical understanding of how stress propagates in nonlinear, ordered and disordered solid media at length scales ranging from nanometers to meters.
  • Studing the fundamental connections between structure and function in different physical domains (temperature sensitivity, electrical conductivity, etc.).
  • Exploiting this understanding for the creation of new materials and devices for engineering applications ranging from optomechanics to shock absorption.
To achieve these goals, our research takes advantage of nonlinearities in local material interactions (e.g., Hertzian contact interactions between particles or nonlinear interactions between nanostructures) to create novel systems and new materials with unprecedented global properties. These materials are composite systems in which typically basis elements that interact are arranged in well-defined geometries, such that the aggregate system as a whole exhibits properties that are not usually found in natural systems and can be exploited in engineering applications. Our work is primarily experimental, but it is informed by numerical and analytical studies, which serve as a guide in metamaterial construction and validation of their properties.

Mechanical Metamaterials

We design and test materials with unprecedented mechanical properties, by selecting constitutive materials with a tailored structural geometry. This allows us, for example, to create new acoustic metamaterials to control structural vibration and sound, and novel mechanical actuators for autonomous, soft robotics.


Bilal, O. R., Foehr, A., Daraio, C. "Bistable metamaterial for switching and cascading elastic vibrations", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1618314114, 2017 (PDF)
Matlack, K. H., Bauhofer, A., Krödel, S., Palermo,A., Daraio, C. "Composite 3D-printed metastructures for low-frequency and broadband vibration absorption", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113, 8386-8390, 2016 (PDF)

Biology and

bacteria trap
We are interested in exploring how cells interact with structured 3D materials. For example, we study how bacteria can be mechanically confined in 3D spaces, and how cardiomyocites and endothelial cells respond to different mechanical environments.


Di Giacomo, R., Krödel, S., Maresca, B., Benzoni, P., Rusconi, R., Stocker, R., Daraio, C. "Deployable micro-traps to sequester motile bacteria", Scientific Reports 7, 2017 (PDF)
Schumacher, C.; Bickel, B.; Marschner, S.; Rys, J., Gross, M.; Daraio, C. Microstructures to Control Elasticity in 3D Printing, Proceedings of ACM SIGGRAPH (Los Angeles, USA, August 9-13, 2015), ACM Transactions on Graphics, vol. 34, no. 4, pp. 136:1-136:13 (PDF)


We fabricate new materials that extract active ingredients from complex biological cells. This allows us to directly capitalize on nature’s own ability to synthesize structures with multifunctional properties. The diversity of plant species offers many opportunities to design, fabricate and test materials for engineering applications.


Di Giacomo, R., Bonanomi, L., Costanza, V., Maresca, B., Daraio, C. "Biomimetic temperature-sensing layer for artificial skin", Science Robotics 2, 3, 2017 (PDF)
Di Giacomo, R; Daraio, C.; Maresca, B. "Plant nanobionic materials with a giant temperature response mediated by pectin-Ca2+", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112, 4541, 2015 (PDF)