Multifunctional Structures and Nanomaterials
Multifunctional structures have become critical components of many technologies used in aerospace engineering. Active materials such as piezoelectric materials, shape-memory alloys (SMA), and electro- and magneto-theological fluids are introduced into a structure for structural vibration control, damping augmentation, and morphing applications. When multifunctional structures are coupled with control algorithms, “smart” structures able to adapt to changing environments are created, increasing the operation envelope of vehicles.
Our faculty is actively engaged in the design, fabrication, and testing of multifunctional trailing edge flaps and trim tabs, as well as active leading-edge non-destructive evaluation and ice-protective piezoelectric structures.
Multifunctional nanomaterials, or advanced materials, research is the study about how material structures determine their properties, including their design and manufacturing. Materials can be engineered at nano and micro scales to tailor their properties, but the why and how to make them consistently work are still not well understood.
This research area is of high interest to academic, industry, and defense communities of aerospace, civil, and biomedical applications, because, if successful, engineering at small scales can improve performance, multifunctionality, and durability of materials: mass-specific strength and toughness, actuation and sensing, and stability in harsh environment (thermal, chemical, and radiation).