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MORPHOSIS Report Summary

Project ID: 308261
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Italy

Mid-Term Report Summary - MORPHOSIS (Morphing Locally and Globally Structures with Multiscale Intelligence by Mimicking Nature)

The project aims to develop innovative multifunctional materials that have distributed local/global sensing and morphing capabilities mimicking the unique multi-functionality of biological systems. Sensing and morphing will be achieved through brand-new multi-scale, multi-physics technologies which comprise: (1) A neurological sensor network that allows local/global sensing and self-monitoring over large areas; (2) An active network that can induce the required local global morphing, modulates rigidity, absorbs undesired vibrations; (3) A shape memory (SMP), multi-stable carbon-fiber composite for local/global morphing in structural applications exhibiting high loads. These technologies will allow to overcome the limits of typical approaches that generally aim at the development of individual functions such as passive or active global morphing, or heavy, invasive and impractical sensor networks. As a consequence, existing morphing materials still do not yet outperform as biological systems which are able to simultaneously sense the environment and deform locally and globally by changing shape or rigidity.
The key of the proposed approach resides in a unique technology that allows the integration of a non-invasive and lightweight, high-density array of miniaturized sensors and electronics together with a high-density array of miniaturized piezoelectric components in large macroscopic areas. The innovative multi-stable, shape memory carbon-fiber composite is ideal for applications that require the use of morphing materials/structures which sustain high loads. The proposed composite guarantees high rigidity at low temperatures and large morphing deformations (snap-through), due to the loss in rigidity of the integrated shape memory resin, at higher temperatures.
Promising results were achieved so far in the sensor network design that exploits unique mechanical properties which are ideal for morphing applications, in the active network design whose local morphing capabilities resemble those of dolphins’ skin capable of deforming at the microscale its dermal ridges to reduce drag and enhance propulsion, as well as in CNTs sensor devices and nanocomposites. Moreover, an innovative SMP material, whose properties should overcome those of conventional SMPs, was designed and is being synthesized. This research not only paves the way toward the realization of the next generation of truly bio-inspired morphing materials, but will also open up new fields of multidisciplinary research with the potential to revolutionize the design, testing and production in a wide variety of fields where the use of multifunctional materials can make the difference (e.g., aerospace/aeronautics, automotive, naval, electronics, textiles, medical devices).

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