Chiara Daraio

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Chiara Daraio is an Italian-American materials scientist and acoustical engineer. She is a professor of mechanical engineering and applied physics at the California Institute of Technology. [1]



Daraio's research contributions include a version of Newton's cradle that can generate "sound bullets"—sound waves focused tightly enough to disrupt matter; [2] [3] walls filled with ball bearings that can pass sound in only one direction; [4] [5] 3d-printed self-assembling rolling robots; [6] solar panels for space missions made of a shape-memory polymer that unfolds in sunlight; [7] and heat-sensitive artificial skin made out of pectin for both robotic and prosthetic uses. [8]

Education and career

Daraio earned a laurea in mechanical engineering from Marche Polytechnic University in 2001, and a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering in 2006 from the University of California, San Diego. [1] Her dissertation, Design of materials: Configurations for enhanced phononic and electronic properties, was jointly supervised by Sungho Jin and Vitali Nesterenko. [9]

She joined the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) faculty in 2006, and has remained there since with a leave from 2013 to 2016 to take a chair of Mechanics and Materials at ETH Zurich. At Caltech, she was initially in the Aeronautics and Applied Physics department, where she was promoted to full professor in 2010; she moved to the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics in 2016. [1]


Daraio won the Felice De Carli Medal of the Italian Metallurgical Society in 2006, [10] and the Richard von Mises Prize of the Gesellschaft für Angewandte Mathematik und Mechanik in 2008. [11]

In 2018 she won the UC San Diego Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Outstanding Alumna Award, "for outstanding achievements in mechanical metamaterials and materials science". [12]

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  1. 1 2 3 "Group chair: Chiara Daraio", Daraio Research Group, California Institute of Technology, retrieved February 27, 2020
  2. Carey, Bjorn (November 30, 2010), "Brilliant 10: Chiara Daraio, the Sound Magician", Popular Science
  3. Than, Ker (April 5, 2010), ""Sound Bullets" to Zap Off Tumors? Popular office toy inspired new acoustic device", National Geographic
  4. Smalley, Eric (July 28, 2011), Super soundproofing is all about little balls, CNET
  5. Melanson, Donald (July 29, 2011), "Caltech researchers devise acoustic diode that sends sound one-way, could harvest energy", engadget
  6. Khan, Amina (August 22, 2019), "This 3D-printed robot assembles itself and then rolls away", Los Angeles Times
  7. Crane, Leah (July 3, 2019), "A solar panel that unfolds in sunlight could power spacecraft", New Scientist
  8. Choi, Charles Q. (February 1, 2017), "Heat-Sensitive Skin Could Let Prosthetics Feel Warmth: New heat sensors are as sensitive as those of rattlesnakes", IEEE Spectrum
  9. Daraio, Chiara (2006), Design of materials Configurations for enhanced phononic and electronic properties, PhD Dissertation, University of California, San Diego, Bibcode:2006PhDT........31D via University of California eScholarship Publishing
  10. Awards, Italian Metallurgical Society, retrieved February 27, 2020
  11. Richard von Mises Prize winners, GAMM, retrieved February 27, 2020
  12. MAE Alumni Awards Recipients, UCSD Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, November 20, 2018, retrieved February 27, 2020