“Our unidirectional EMCs combine the stiffness of carbon fiber with the compliance of an elastomer, making it capable of supporting aerodynamic loads and deforming when desired,” says Wereley. Previous morphing technologies rely on rigid sliding structures, which can be heavier and less efficient than a continuous aerodynamic surface made of EMC skin, he says.

The CORE lab is developing advanced EMC morphing aircraft skins that combine the high-elongation capability of rubber-like materials with the high-strength and stiffness of advanced fiber reinforcements. The lab also is working on high strain-capable morphing core structures that stretch the skin to allow for transfer of air loads into the primary structures. “Combining these technologies allows for replacement of discrete mechanical morphing structures, such as the F-14 wing sweep, with continuous and integrated morphing mechanisms,” says Wereley.

Recently, the CORE lab successfully wind tunnel tested a working model of a morphing wing capable of a complete change in area.