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Vaziri Awarded $250K NSF Grant

July 20, 2016

MIE Associate Professor Ashkan Vaziri was awarded a $250K NSF grant for the "Computational Design of Programmable Lattice Material Systems".

Abstract Source: NSF

Lattice materials can be engineered to exhibit desired bulk properties by controlling, through design and fabrication, the spatial arrangement of one or more base materials at smaller dimensional scales than the bulk material. Programmable materials are those that can change their spatial configuration in real-time, thereby offering the possibility of attaining not one but a number of desired behaviors. The proxy programmable material system considered in this research consists of a truss lattice with struts that can be opened and closed by means of electromagnetic joints. To attain multiple desired properties, it is necessary to determine both the lattice design, consisting of the size and position of the struts, and a program corresponding to each property consisting of the open/closed state of the joints. This effort, however, involves a large number of design parameters, hence it is not possible in general to design and program these materials by mere intuition, nor is it feasible to resort to computational, let alone experimental trial-and-error. This Design of Engineering Material Systems (DEMS) award supports fundamental research to formulate the first computational framework for the systematic design and programming of these lattice material systems. Results of this research have potentially far reaching applications, such as adaptable remote infrastructure operating in inhospitable environments, shelters that adapt their response to the direction of an incoming impact, building foundations that respond to the direction and frequency of an incoming seismic wave to avoid resonance, or aircraft wing structures that adapt to the flight regime to decrease drag and increase fuel efficiency. A concerted effort to recruit underrepresented undergraduate and graduate students for this project will increase their participation in the field of computational materials design. The multidisciplinary nature of this research will allow them to conduct research in a highly collaborative environment and ultimately widen their career opportunities.

The foundation of the design framework is the projection of an analytical geometry representation of the lattice beams onto a fixed finite element grid for analysis and topology optimization. The intellectual contributions of this research lie in the ability to project the beams with electromagnetic joints to obtain an analysis model whose accuracy is adequate for the design, combine geometric requirements with strength, stability and connectivity constraints to ensure the lattice can be fabricated and does not lose its specified functions and simultaneously design the lattice and determine the programs necessary to attain multiple functions by solving a bi-level optimization problem.