Experiments on seismic metamaterials: molding surface waves

Phys Rev Lett. 2014 Apr 4;112(13):133901. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.112.133901. Epub 2014 Mar 31.


Materials engineered at the micro- and nanometer scales have had a tremendous and lasting impact in photonics and phononics. At much larger scales, natural soils civil engineered at decimeter to meter scales may interact with seismic waves when the global properties of the medium are modified, or alternatively thanks to a seismic metamaterial constituted of a mesh of vertical empty inclusions bored in the initial soil. Here, we show the experimental results of a seismic test carried out using seismic waves generated by a monochromatic vibrocompaction probe. Measurements of the particles' velocities show a modification of the seismic energy distribution in the presence of the metamaterial in agreement with numerical simulations using an approximate plate model. For complex natural materials such as soils, this large-scale experiment was needed to show the practical feasibility of seismic metamaterials and to stress their importance for applications in civil engineering. We anticipate this experiment to be a starting point for smart devices for anthropic and natural vibrations.