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Stiffness control in composites using smart fibre coatings

Project overview

The aim of this research project is to produce composites with controllable stiffness for use in morphing wings. The development of innovative adaptive structures, such as morphing wings, could potentially reduce system complexity in aircraft by eliminating control surfaces and auxiliary equipment. This technology would allow an aircraft to adapt to its different mission needs and execute particular missions with greater fuel efficiency by maintaining an optimum aerofoil section over a range of speeds.

Previous strategies to develop morphing structures include the incorporation of piezoelectric elements (fibres or layers) into conventional laminated fibre reinforced composites so that the structure can be deformed by applying an electrical current. However, approaches such as these face a significant challenge. In order to deform an inherently stiff composite structure large forces must be generated by the morphing system. If the stiffness of the composite can be temporarily lowered while the morphing system is activated then the following will be reduced: i) the forces that the system must generate; ii) the energy required to effect the shape change; iii) the stresses induced in the structure.


Dr. Henry Maples


University of Vienna | Universitätsring 1 | 1010 Vienna | T +43-1-4277-0