Aerospace Structures

Contact: Dr. Wesley Cantwell, Dr. Rehan Umer, Dr. Kamran Khan, Dr. Sanjeev Rao, D. Fahad Almaskari, Dr. Rashid Abu Al-Rub

Given that the empty weight of an aircraft is approximately 50% that of its maximum take-off weight, there are growing demands to reduce the mass of critical structural components, such as the fuselage, wings and tailplane. Current research on aerospace structures at KU is investigating new lightweight designs that can out-perform existing components. Here, new types of sandwich structure with novel cores are being developed that offer similar properties to existing structures, but are much lighter. Examples include all-composite sandwich structures in which both the skins and the core are manufactured from high-performance composites, such as carbon fiber reinforced plastics. These are some of the lightest designs that currently exist and they are likely to lead to significant changes in the performance of the next generation of both civil and military aircraft. Attempts are also being made to model the behavior of these structures and to predict their operational lifespan.


Aerospace Manufacturing

Contact: Dr. Wesley Cantwell, Dr. Rehan Umer, Dr. Kamran Khan, Dr. Sanjeev Rao, Dr. Fahad Almaskari, Dr. Kin Liao, Dr. Rashid K. Abu Al-Rub,

Composite materials are being used in ever greater amounts in the manufacture of aircraft structures. For example, the Boeing 787 is largely produced from carbon fiber reinforced plastic. Faced with the challenge of manufacturing large composite components at low cost, engineers are looking for new and novel ways to produce them. Researchers at KU are investigating new routes for manufacturing lightweight structures, such as resin infusion, out of autoclave processing, automated fiber placement and additive manufacturing (3D printing). These techniques enable components to be manufactured very quickly and precisely, keeping costs down whilst driving performance up. There remain many hurdles that have to be overcome, such as understanding how the processing parameters affect the properties of the finished component. Work is also underway to predict how the materials within the composite will behave during the processing cycle. Here, finite element techniques are being used to enable engineers to design the next generation of Composite structures with greater confidence.


Aerospace Nanomaterials & Nanocomposites

Contact: Dr. Kin Liao, Dr. Rehan Umer, Dr. Kamran Khan, Dr. Sanjeev Rao, Dr. Rashid K. Abu Al-Rub

Recent exciting developments in the area of nanotechnology will soon offer engineers the possibility of building ultrahigh performance aircraft starting at the atomic scale. The resulting structures will be incredibly strong and very light (for example graphene is more than one hundred times stronger than steel). Researchers at Khalifa University are introducing carbon nanotubes, carbon nanofibers, graphene and other two-dimensional heterogeneous materials into conventional composite materials in order to improve their toughness and to make them damage-tolerant and more resistant to impact and fatigue loading. Techniques are also being developed to ensure that the carbon nanomaterials are evenly dispersed throughout the composite, avoiding the occurrence of unwanted aggregations or grouping of these nanometer-sized materials. Future research will consider effective ways to manufacture nanocomposites and also investigate ways to fully benefit from the enormous potential offered by these amazing materials.


Computational Mechanics of Composite Materials

Contact: Dr. Kamran A. Khan, Dr. Rashid K. Abu Al-Rub, Dr. Fahad Almaskari

With the advent of novel materials such as responsive fibers, active particles, graphene and carbon nanotubes, composites and architected cellular materials can now be made multifunctional by incorporating mechanical, thermal, electrical, magnetic, optical and/or other functionality by varying constituents and microstructural arrangements. The use of these advanced multifunctional composites has been drastically increased in engineering applications such as aerospace, automotive, biomedical, energy and oil and gas industries. During their life time these composites are often exposed to simultaneous mechanical, thermal, electrical, magnetic and non-mechanical effects, such as diffusion of fluid, extreme environments, chemical reactions that affect the mechanical properties of the composites and leading to strong coupling between various physical properties in the composites. Researchers at KU are developing experimentally validated macro/micro/nano-mechanics-based constitutive theories for small and large deformation multi-scale and multi-physics behavior of polymers and metals. Emphasis is on developing various theoretical and computational micromechanical models to predict the properties, performance and durability of advanced multifunctional materials, metamaterials, architected lightweight cellular materials and composite structural systems. The advantage of micromechanical models is that they are capable of predicting the effective behavior of composites subjected to concurrent mechanical and other stimuli while recognizing multi-field responses of the constituents. These outline some of the research areas that are being investigated at Khalifa University. If you are interested, please contact the relevant member of staff in order to get more information.


Architected Multifunctional Materials and Composites

Contact: Dr. Rashid K. Abu Al-Rub, Dr. Kamran A. Khan, Dr. Kin Liao

Design of new materials and composites that are durable, lightweight, and multifunctional are commonly inspired by natural materials and composites. However, as engineers we are no longer limited to the natural patterns as we can design our own architected materials and composites (i.e., meta-materials and meta-composites). These will transform the way materials and composites are designed to achieve several engineered properties, and shift the material creation paradigm from structure→processing→property to property→architecture→fabrication. Researchers at Khalifa University are engaged in the development of novel types of lightweight, damage-tolerant, and multifunctional materials and composites that are architected to enhance the performance of aerospace structures and other engineering systems. Additive manufacturing (3D printing), which is at the forefront of fourth industrial revolution, is used for fabricating these new materials and composites. Furthermore, complex theoretical and computational modeling is used to guide the design of such materials and composites.