Statistics Seminar - Multifunctional Composite Systems

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TITLE: Multifunctional Composite Systems

SPEAKER: Dr. Ben Wang


This talk covers some of Dr. Wang and his colleagues’ recent research and a path forward. The purpose is to seek collaborations with experts in statistics, reliability, quality, process control and optimization. Gen I composites, made with fiberglass and early carbon fibers, served as metal replacements in secondary, non-load bearing parts. The Gen I success fostered the development and progressive use of modern carbon fibers in load bearing structures to replace metals. Gen II composites, built on intermediate-modulus carbon fibers and improved matrix resins, brought about a broader use in selected structures. Advancements in the 1980’s-90’s resulted in innovative uses of composites in commercial aerospace, auto, marine, space and sporting goods and expanded military applications. This growth was largely driven to achieve additional weight saving due to the materials’unparalleled ability to solve seemingly contradictory requirements, such as reducing weigh while increasing mechanical properties. The potential of composites is clear and the trend of continued use of composites is unstoppable.

Treated as metal replacement, total performance improvements at the system’s level has largely been “linear” over the past 50 years spanning Gen I and the current Gen II, despite a tremendous body of knowledge in materials science and impressive engineering developments. However, if we continue this linear trend and extrapolate into out years, can composites meet much more stringent requirements for tomorrow’s lightweight engineered systems characterized by unprecedented requirements for performance, quality, energy efficiency, reliability, safety, environmental compatibility and life cycle affordability?

We define Generation III composite systems as ultra-lightweight, energy efficient, high-performance composite structures where multiple functions co-exist symbiotically without requiring parasitic components. Such a paradigm-changing endeavor obviously requires enormous multidisciplinary teamwork over a long period of time.

The presentation is intended to stimulate a discussion on the following topics:

1. Can synergistic materials with intrinsic properties be developed, scaled and integrated to realize effective Gen III multifunctional structural systems of the highest possible quality, reliability and performance throughout their life cycles?

2. Can the Gen III multifunctional structural systems exceed the performance of today’s best composites and if so, by how much?

3. What are the barriers, challenges and possible solutions at the basic science and enabling technology levels and how can these solutions be embodied in an integrated engineered system? 


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