The research goals are to a) develop theoretical and finite element models to predict the coupling and strength of active piezoceramic carbon fiber, b) determine the geometry to maximize the fiber strength and coupling for various applications, c) identify the fabrication techniques for the active carbon fiber and d) construct a series of active fibers and active fiber lamina for experimental analysis. This will be a new composite material with several multifunctional properties whose properties will be explored in this research. The use of piezoceramic materials for structural actuation is a fairly well developed practice that has found use in a wide variety of applications. However, just as advanced composites offer many benefits over traditional engineering materials for structural design, actuators that utilize the active properties of piezoelectric fibers can improve upon many of the limitations encountered when using monolithic piezoceramic devices. Many new piezoelectric fiber composites have been developed, however almost all studies have implemented these devices such that they are surface bonded patches used for sensing or actuation. The research program will develop a novel active piezoelectric carbon fiber that can be laid up in a composite structural material to perform sensing and actuation, in addition to providing critical load bearing functionality.
The successful development of the multifunctional fiber will make broad impacts across engineering disciplines making the research of great value to society. The sensing and actuation aspects of the multifunctional material will allow composites to be designed with embedded structural health monitoring, power generation, vibration sensing and control, damping and shape control through anisotropic actuation. Additionally, the multifunctional fiber could allow the structure to be used for energy storage, which is a major issue with the advancement of wireless electronics and sensors. Each of these potential applications resulting from the fundamental development of the active carbon fiber will have broad impacts on the performance and safety of modern structures. Furthermore, the advances made through the development of multifunctional material systems will advance the way in which adaptive structures are designed and the modeling of composite materials with an active interphase layer. The project will recruit underrepresented participants through the use of undergraduate research internships. Additionally, researchers will participate in the Michigan Tech summer youth program by developing and teaching week long summer courses to under represented groups of pre-college students. These lessons will incorporate results of this research and will encourage individuals to pursue a college education in engineering through an introduction to its multidisciplinary nature. Enhancement of infrastructure will occur, as new desktop experiments are designed, and this will spill over into class room education. The effort also contains a collaboration of research and technical ideas with a leading research groups at Los Alamos National Labs and the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. Furthermore, the collaboration with Los Alamos will lead to research projects in their Dynamic Summer School program to encourage undergraduate students to pursue a graduate degree in the field of dynamics.