Flexible matrix composite skins for One-dimensional wing morphing

Gabriel Murray, Farhan Gandhi, Charles Bakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Morphing aircraft wings require flexible skins that undergo large strains, have low in-plane stiffness, and high out-of-plane stiffness to carry aerodynamic loads. For some morphing applications deformation and low stiffness in the flexskin is required in one direction. In these cases, a flexible matrix composite (FMC) skin is proposed as a possible solution. A FMC comprises of stiff fibers embedded in a soft, high-strain capable matrix material. The matrix-dominated direction is aligned with the morphing direction. This allows the skin to undergo large strain at low energy cost. However, the high-stiffness in the fiber-dominated direction allows application of pretension along this direction, without rupture, and is critical for the membrane skin to carry out-of-plane pressure loads without excessive deformation. An analysis for a FMC skin panel is developed and validated against experiment. The analysis is used to conduct design studies. Comparison of the FMC skin to a matrix-only skin illustrates the importance of the fiber's stiffness in tolerating pretension and limiting out-of-plane deformation under load. The other dominant parameter that limits out-of-plane deformation is panel size, with smaller lengths in the non-morphing direction proving beneficial. In general, fiber and matrix modulus has limited effect on out-of-plane deformation of flexskin panels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1771-1781
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures
Issue number17
StatePublished - Nov 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanical Engineering


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