Volume: 131(9) - September, 2009
We are very pleased to introduce this special issue on the Design of Smart Structures and Systems. The call for papers was issued at the 2008 ASME Conference on Smart Materials, Adaptive Structures, and Intelligent Systems, as part of the Enabling Technologies and Integrated System Design symposium. As was discussed in the March 2009 editorial on Design Innovation, JMD embraces a wide variety of design-oriented research papers, including those on smart materials, structures and systems. This special issue focuses on innovative technologies and new methods to design and analyze these devices.
Smart materials and structures can be thought of as those that adapt to their environment in some way, and they often provide previously unattainable functionality and performance. Smart materials alter their mechanical properties or provide some mechanical work in response to an external, e.g., electrical, stimulus. A smart structure may incorporate smart material actuators or some other means of adapting to its surroundings. An example of a smart structure is a morphing aircraft wing that adjusts its shape to adapt to varying flight conditions. The smart morphing wing may be fully active in that sensors, actuators, and a controller are integrated into the system to adjust the shape of the wing (e.g., airfoil cross-section shape, span, or sweep angle) to improve performance over a range of flight conditions. Or the morphing wing may be passive where the structural properties of the wing are tailored such that the wing shape changes in response to aerodynamic surface pressure without the need for external sensors and actuators. Another example of a smart system is the use of shape memory alloys to automatically control air flow in building HVAC systems which do not need any power or wiring. In any case, there is a very wide variety of topics that encompass the research area of smart materials and structures; the papers in this special issue demonstrate this breadth.