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MIT/NASA's Very Adaptive Wings Using MetaMaterials

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posted on Apr, 1 2019 @ 03:29 PM
Metamaterials are interesting things. Metamaterials are a composite, of sorts, of multiple materials made from plastics or metals or some combination of both. Their intended purposes is to create something that doesn't happen naturally in nature. The most famous of metamaterials for the public is the invisibility cloak. That is far from the only example, just the most famous.

Adaptive wings are something that has been in the works for at least since the 1980s. The idea there is to have wings that adapt their shape to the flight envelope they are in and even replace the flaps on the wings as well. While there has been a lot of promise for the technology, it hasn't ever broken out of the test articles into production aircraft. That hasn't stopped groups from pursuing the technology all the same. NASA is one of the big developers here from their aeronautics side of the house.

MIT has teamed with NASA to test out the marriage of a metamaterial to allow for shape changing wings, the adaptive wing tech, but using metamaterials. There are carefully placed struts made of shape changing metamaterial placed under triangular shaped pieces in the wind tunnel model. The metamaterial changes shape, moving the individual triangular pieces of the wing, and in aggregate creating a new wing shape.

As a first proof of concept, it is interesting. It could be a whole lot more if they had a better skin tech on top of the wing, rather than merely the triangular pieces. However, again, first proof of concept. It'll be interesting if they go anywhere with with or if it ends up being another tech toy like the other adaptive wing tech.

Popular writeup:

Scientific Paper:

posted on Apr, 1 2019 @ 04:05 PM
a reply to: anzha

Sorry TEOTWAWKIAIFF beat you to it....
edit on 4/1/2019 by TheLead because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 1 2019 @ 04:24 PM
a reply to: TheLead


please delete as a redundant. That thread ought to have been posted here though.

posted on Apr, 1 2019 @ 09:42 PM
a reply to: anzha

I think we can have both.., different interests and all...

Like I said, my thread is more about tech than flight... and you guys get really cool conversations going from time to time!

posted on Apr, 1 2019 @ 09:58 PM
What happened to Gulfstreams test plane with the adaptive wing?It was flying wasnt it?

posted on Apr, 1 2019 @ 10:13 PM
a reply to: Blackfinger


They have spun out another company to try and get traction on their wing... for people who are not comfortable with new technology.

posted on Apr, 2 2019 @ 11:41 AM
People "uncomfortable" with the new technology just know the technology isn't mature yet. Like many systems, it isn't "will this work?" . It's more a question of practicality. "How will we make this work practically in real world?" "How much does this cost?" "How often do I need to tear it apart and fix it?" "How much time and money does it take to fix it?" " How do I interface this with real world flight regimes? "

Slats and flaps are (relatively) extremely simple mechanical devices. A spring loaded slat deploys automatically in the right conditions. It something breaks, it takes very little time for a couple of guys to tear it down and replace components. Slats and flaps function in the same manner as a morphing wing. What little efficiency increases you achieve by morphing the majority of the wing is (to date) overwhelmed by the losses in practicality. In level flight at normal velocities (the majority of flight time), the basic wingshape is already highly efficient for the designed regime.

Some day, thw advantages will outweigh the disadvantages, but we're a long way to go. Still neat.

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