Advanced Composites and Intelligent Structures

Elastic guided waves being radiated from a point source in a cross-ply composite plate

The Advanced Composites and Intelligent Structures research theme is at the frontier of research and application of advanced composites materials and intelligent structures. Composites have outstanding mechanical properties and also offer exciting possibilities to create multi-functional adaptive structures.

The research theme brings together composites activities across the University of Bristol, based in the Faculty of Engineering and linking to the science and medical faculties. Research across the theme encompasses four broad areas, with a number of related activities:

Multifunctional composites and novel microstructures

Advanced composites provide unique opportunities to create structural materials with added functionality (for example, for sensing or self-repair) and new material architectures incorporating novel fibres and nanomaterials. Research topics include:

  • coatings
  • auxetics
  • novel fibres and microstructures
  • nanocomposites
  • self-healing.

Design, analysis and failure

Fundamental experimental studies in this area focus on understanding the physical and mechanical behaviour that provides the foundation for analysis methods to predict performance, and on identifying tools to design and manufacture optimal structures. Research topics include:

  • size effects
  • through-thickness reinforcement
  • impact
  • optimisation
  • repair
  • fatigue
  • civil infrastructure
  • buckling
  • numerical modelling.

Intelligent structures

Composites enable integration of the traditional disciplines of materials science, mechanical engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, numerical modelling and optimisation to create high-performance intelligent structures. Research topics include:

  • morphing
  • sensing
  • actuation
  • health monitoring.

Composites processing and characterisation

This area of research focuses on using our knowledge of material microstructures and processing characteristics to enable the development of enhanced and novel approaches for manufacturing composite components. Research topics include:

  • residual stresses
  • drape
  • resin transfer molding (RTM)
  • defects
  • recycling
  • squeeze casting.