Exploiting the instability of smart structure for reconfiguration

Zhang, Jiaying and Zhang, Chen and Hao, Lin and Nie, Rui and Qiu, Jinhao (2017) Exploiting the instability of smart structure for reconfiguration. Applied Physics Letters, 111 (6). 064102. ISSN 0003-6951 (https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4986795)

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Aiming to verify the concept of using heteroclinic connections to reconfigure smart structures, a multistable buckled beam with integrated Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) wires is utilized as a high fidelity model. The Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) wires are resistively heated to provide the actuation force to stabilize the unstable configuration and the transition of the beam from one unstable equilibrium condition to the other. This concept provides a means of reducing the energy requirement for transitions between configurations of the structure, which is an energy-efficient reconfiguration scheme between equal-energy unstable (but actively controlled) equilibria. This letter presents a detailed design of the system, and how the active (heated) SMA wires control the structure stay in unstable configuration and drive the structure to achieve reconfiguration. Exploiting the instability of the smart structure has significant interests in many power reduction applications, including active flow control, reconfiguration of large deployable aerospace structures, and MEMS devices.