The Portela Research Group seeks to utilize 3D architecture in materials to address current societal and engineering challenges. We aim to understand materials across length and time scales, from nanometers to centimeters and from quasi-statics to extreme dynamics, respectively.  We strive to design, fabricate, model, and test all our materials in an in-house loop whenever possible. 

Areas of Research

Acoustic Metamaterials


We seek to understand and control the propagation of acoustic waves in materials using 3D architecture. Beyond fabricating these materials in our lab, informed by numerical models,  we are developing methods to test their response with particular interest in the MHz regime. 



Self-Assembled Nanomaterials


Our recent work has shown that non-periodic architectures could provide superior mechanical performance than slowly produced beam-based architectures. We are developing processes to fabricate these materials in a scalable fashion, while understanding and predicting their mechanical response based on their 3D geometry.  

Nano/Microscale Impact


While the quasi-static performance of 3D architected materials has been thoroughly explored, their response under dynamic and extreme conditions is largely unknown. In collaboration with colleagues from the Nelson Group at MIT, we are studying the nanoscale impact response of nano-architected materials, shedding light into the optimal design of materials for blast- and impact-mitigation applications.  

Mechanics of 3D Microgranular Crystals


Granular materials have exhibited unique responses, particularly in the dynamic regime, which have remained limited to large-scale particle assemblies. Recently, novel fabrication procedures have enabled the fabrication of micro granular crystals with tunable arrangements and with nanoscale precision. In collaboration with the Flexible Research Group at UCLA (led by Prof. Jonathan Hopkins), we are exploring the mechanical response of these materials across time scales.     

Extensible, Compliant 3D Architected Materials


Architected materials are typically associated with stiff & strong properties, while their potential for compliant and soft applications has been overlooked. We are exploring novel design paradigms (e.g., woven materials) which enable us to architect materials that are simultaneously extensible, compliant, and soft. Beyond designing these materials, we aim to fabricate and characterize them in our lab.


The Portela Research group is proud to actively collaborate with the Nelson Group at MIT and the Flexible Research Group at UCLA (led by Prof. Jonathan Hopkins). We are also happy to continue interacting with the Greer Group at Caltech and the Kochmann Research Group at ETH Zürich.