Smart Materials Maturity

Shishira Nagesh, Master's student.

The Smart Materials Maturity thrust area focuses on the fundamental science and basic research needed to gain a mature understanding of smart materials in the context of specific automotive applications and the new technologies being formed, which inevitably raise new material research issues such as response in different regimes of operation (e.g. different loads, strain rates, etc.), reliability and environmental sensitivities.  This thrust area seeks to achieve these goals by developing new multi-field experimental methods, models and simulation tools that feed into the design methodologies for smart material devices which can be used by engineers whose understanding of the material behavior may be less sophisticated.  The initial focus is on currently available/low cost smart materials, such as SMA in wire form, but advanced forms and processing will also be of interest as various smart materials mature and costs come down.  While there is a heavy focus initially on SMAs, other materials such as electroactive polymers, shape memory polymers and piezoelectrics will be investigated as the paradigm evolves.  The research direction is driven by the needs of the technology development and automotive applications.  The intent is not to develop new materials but instead usher existing materials to levels of maturity which allow for successful integration into products.