Active multi-functional materials and their embodying into systems of structural mechanics are the basis for the design and development of smart structures. In combination with active or passive control, such structures are able to automatically react to disturbances and changing environmental conditions. Vibration and noise reduction, shape control, health monitoring and energy harvesting are just a few applications of smart structures, which are installed e.g. on wind turbines, rotor blades, flexible robots, and so on. Modelling, design and implementation of smart structures require an interdisciplinary mechatronical approach, which involves coupled multi-field modelling of materials and structures, communication with a control system by means of embodied sensor and actuator systems, and the synthesis of the smart structural system into the overall engineering system.
The Research Unit Mechanics of Solids is conducting research on smart structures with respect to modelling of smart materials and structures, design of intelligent sensor and actuator systems and computer-based simulation of smart structures.
Modelling of smart materials and structures
Modelling in the geometrically and physically nonlinear regime is done on the structural level. Based on the analytical results, a multi-field plate or shell formulation for a thin-walled structure with piezoelectric sensors and actuators is developed and implemented in an in-house simulation tool. The tool is validated against results, obtained with fully 3D formulations using commercial software for a set of benchmark problems. The structural formulation raises the computational efficiency.
Design of sensor and actuator systems
Concerning the design of sensor and actuator systems based on smart structures technology, we develop methods for the computation of optimal distributions of embodied smart sensors and actuators, which are based on classical principles of mechanics; e.g. the principle of virtual work. These methods allow us to find optimal designs for embodied smart materials and to develop novel innovative concepts for the monitoring and control of vibrations, instabilities, and damage in mechatronical systems.
Vibration reduction, dynamic shape control, structural control, and health monitoring using smart structures technology are the main practical problems, to which the novel innovative concepts are applied. Here, we also focus on the aspect of efficient numerical simulation, both in the nonlinear and linear regime; this enables us to verify our models and designs and to test the developed concepts in a virtual world. In cooperation with the measurement and actuator technology group, the feasibility of the concepts can also be experimentally tested.
Vetyukov, Y., Kuzin, A., & Krommer, M. (2011). Asymptotic splitting in the three-dimensional problem of elasticity for non-homogeneous piezoelectric plates. International Journal of Solids and Structures, 48(1), 12-23
Vetyukov Y, Krommer M (2010) On the combination of asymptotic and direct approaches to the modeling of plates with piezoelectric actuators and sensors. In Proceedings of SPIE—The international society for optical engineering, vol 7647