Aerospace Engineering Seminars

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AE 590 Seminar: Architected Composites for Durability and Damage Tolerance

Event Type
Aerospace Engineering
CIF 2035
Mar 10, 2022   9:00 am   10:00
Pavana Prabhakar, Charles G. Salmon Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Kristen Reifsteck

The future of aerostructures relies heavily on advances in materials and structures in view of affordability, safety, and environmental compatibility. Reinforced polymer composite materials have shown tremendous promise over the past few decades for use in lightweight aircraft structures due to their high strength-to-weight ratios, which results in significant energy savings. However, these structures are often exposed to multi-physics conditions, like dynamic impact, fatigue loading, extreme temperatures, moisture, among others that make them vulnerable to degradation and damage, thereby, severely reducing the composite’s damage tolerance and durability. With emerging demands to improve vehicle performance and reduce cost, there is a critical need for novel avenues to mitigate or minimize their susceptibility to damage and failure. Mechanics dictated internal architectures, which rely on combining solid distribution, base material properties, and morphologies have shown great potential for achieving effective material properties unattainable by traditional composites. To that end, we cross-pollinate mechanics-based architectures within polymer composites and advanced manufacturing techniques for their fabrication with the goal of enhancing durability and damage tolerance.

In this talk, I will present our recent research on polymer composite architectures occurring at different length scales, including: 1) Additively printed patterns/architectures for enhancing interlaminar toughness in layered composites that rely on crack deflection principle. 2) Shape recovering and dissipative multi-stable sandwich composite cores with internal architecture that exhibit negative stiffness and pseudo-bistability. 3) Fiber micro-architecture driven moisture diffusion pathways as potential avenue for improving long-term durability of polymer composites.

Pavana Prabhakar is the Charles G. Salmon Assistant Professor in the departments of Mechanical Engineering, and Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she leads the Prabhakar Manufacturing and Mechanics Lab (MaMeL). She received her PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan in 2013. Her research interests are in the fields of mechanics and advanced manufacturing of architected composite materials, with emphasis on damage and failure in extreme environments. Prabhakar has received numerous awards, including the NSF CAREER, ONR Young Investigator Program, and AFOSR Young Investigator Program Awards. She is also the recipient of the 2019 DEStech Young Composites Researcher Award from the American Society for Composites. For more information, see

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