Deployable Structures with Ultra-thin Composites

Ultra-thin fiber-reinforced composite materials are increasingly being used in deployable spacecraft structures such as solar arrays, solar sails, and antennas due to their stiffness properties, thermal insensitivity, and mass efficiency. Coilable and foldable structures composed of thin-ply composite materials can be packaged in highly deformed states under stowage and deploy through the release of stored strain energy.  The flexibility and lightweight nature of thin-ply composites allow them to be highly compatible with active materials, especially with regards to shape sensing, monitoring integrity, and actuation authority over the host structure. Our aim is to develop multifunctional space structures that can adapt to a wide array of environmental and operational conditions by coupling novel deployment concepts with sensor and actuator systems.


Lightweight Architectures for Spacecraft Structures

The design of space structures largely consist of point designs where the concept, material selection, and component level geometry are all locally optimized. This approach obscures potential advantages or vulnerabilities that may arise when the global structural performance of the spacecraft is evaluated against system requirements. Therefore, our objective is to develop new generalized approaches for designing and comparing structural architectures of large spacecraft. These architectures dictate how stability is maintained against both internal and external loading. We consider critical limiting conditions such as buckling, material failure, and excessive deflection for structural members to optimize global metrics such as mass efficiency or shape accuracy.


Active Multistable Structures

Multistable structures comprise of co-existing states that each correspond to a distinct and stable geometry. They offer both shape and stiffness adaptability with the integration of active materials. Composite shells displaying this re-shaping property are particularly compelling candidates for morphing and deployable structures. Our objective is to investigate how the elastic instabilities and nonlinear dynamics of multistable structures can be leveraged by active transducers to enable reconfigurability, energy conversion, and vibration and shape control.