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Multifunctional Materials and Intelligent Structures

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Several of our faculty are working at the forefront of materials and structures development.

  • The Structures and Composites Laboratory (SACL) has led the design of integrated structures, development of smart structures, quantification of the damage tolerance of composite structures and development of advanced multifunctional materials. It has played a key role in the realization of new materials and structures in actual aerospace and transportation systems.
  • The EXtreme Environment Microsystems Laboratory (XLab) is developing MEMS sensors, nanoelectronics and nanostructured materials that can withstand high temperatures, radiation exposure and chemical attack. It leverages the Stanford Nanofabrication Facility and the Stanford Nano Shared Facilities to create and examine nanomaterials, MEMS sensors and radiation-hardened, temperature-tolerant electronics. It has played a key role in the development of next-generation sensors and electronics for space exploration, combustion, satellites and subsurface well bores.
  • The Reconfigurable & Active Structures Lab investigates structures that do more than carry loads. They study the connection between a structure’s performance and form allowing us to change geometry, mechanics, and multi-physics response (e.g. electromagnetic, self-sensing, optical) of a structure. The ultimate goal is the realization of reconfigurable spacecraft structures and scientific instruments with on-demand performance, helping reduce weight and energy use.
  • The Morphing Space Structures Lab develops deployable spacecraft structures, novel flexible composite structures, and origami-inspired structures.

Electronics for extreme environments

Together, our SACL and XLab laboratories are examining the high-strength and lightweight properties of nanomaterials and nanoelectronics to advance aerospace systems and subsystems. They are also embedding robust piezoelectric sensors in composites to monitor the structural health of aircraft systems. At the fundamental level, their research focuses on the following areas in advanced materials and structures:

  • Smart structures
  • Multifunctional materials
  • Structural health monitoring
  • Damage tolerance of composite materials
  • High-temperature piezoelectric transducers
  • Nanocomposite materials
  • MEMS sensors and electronics
  • Nanoscale sensors for harsh environments
  • Nanoceramic materials for harsh environments
  • Radiation-hardened electronics

Intelligent and nanoscale materials

Our success in these areas leverages our core competencies in design manufacturing and experimental characterization of advanced structures and materials. Ultimately, the maturity and scalability of nanomaterials and the advancement of structural health monitoring approaches will change the way we engineer aircraft, automobiles, spacecraft, satellites and planetary rovers.