2906 Learning from Plants: Bio-Inspired Multi-Functional Adaptive Structural Systems

Saturday, February 19, 2011: 3:30 PM
145A (Washington Convention Center )
Kon-Well Wang , University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
This research is a collaborative interdisciplinary study to create a multifunctional adaptive structure concept through investigating the characteristics of plants.  We explore new ideas building upon innovations inspired by the mechanical, chemical, and electrical properties of plant cells.  It has been observed that plant nastic actuations (e.g., rapid plant motions of mimosa) occur due to directional changes in plant cell shape facilitated by internal hydrostatic pressure, achieving actuations with large force and stroke.  It is also known that plants can adapt to the direction/magnitude of external loads and damage, and reconfigure or heal themselves via cell growth.  The ability to concurrently achieve distributed large stroke/force actuation, significant property change, self-sensing, reconfiguration, and self-healing has long been the dream of the adaptive structure researchers.  The bio-sensing/ actuation features of plants can provide engineers with valuable knowledge and opportunities for interdisciplinary intellectual advancements that could lead to a new paradigm of adaptive structures.  Building upon and advancing from the investigators’ study of the promising fluidic flexible matrix composite (F2MC) concept, F2MC cells are created that emulate functions of plant cells based on our understanding of the cell wall response to pressure, loading, and damage.  Through structural analysis and control synthesis, F2MC cells can be assembled to form a hypercellular topology resembling a circulatory network for potential global actuation and structural control, thermal management, and self healing.  The outcome of this project could become the building blocks of future systems with enhanced functionality and performance.  The next generation’s air, marine, and land vehicles, intelligent machines, and smart infrastructures will benefit from the knowledge discovered.    
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