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Multi-functional Composite Materials

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We investigate laminated composite materials that derive additional functionality from their multi-material arrangements. The work has enabled applications in deployable space structures, composites for extreme environments and stiffness adaptation.

Dual-Matrix Composites

Composite Radiating Elements for Cryogenic Environments

Dual-Matrix Composites

Dual matrix composites for deployable space structures

Thin fiber reinforced polymer composite shells are commonly employed in deployable space structures as the small material thickness allows bending to small radii and hence folding of the structures. However, the thin material also results in a tradeoff for the deployed structural thickness. We investigate composite materials with localized inclusions of a soft elastomeric matrix. The elastomeric composite enables even smaller fold radii through elastic fiber micro-buckling on the compression side of the fold, thereby allowing to increase structural thickness elsewhere. Deployable structures made from this material are analogous to composite origami. The material furthermore enables integration of antenna functionality through embedding of metallic meshes into the composite laminate. Our research investigates the stiffness of dual matrix composite structures, develops finite element modelling techniques to understand their packaging and deployment, and evaluates application to large satellite structures.

Related Publications:

  • M. Sakovsky, S. Pellegrino, Closed cross-section dual-matrix composite hinge for deployable structures, Composite Structures 208, pp. 784-795, 2019.
  • M. Sakovsky, S. Pellegrino, and J. Costantine, Rapid design of deployable antennas for CubeSats, IEEE Antennas and Propagation Magazine 59 (2), pp. 50-58, 2017.
  • J. Costantine, Y. Tawk, I. Maqueda, G. M. Olson, M. Sakovsky, S. Pellegrino, C. G. Christodoulou, UHF deployable helical antennas for CubeSats, IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation 64 (9), pp. 3751-3759, 2016.
  • M. Sakovsky, S. Pellegrino, H.M.Y.C. Mallikarachchi, Folding and deployment of closed cross-section dual-matrix composite booms, AIAA Scitech Forum, San Diego, USA, 2016, AIAA 2016-0970.
  • M. Sakovsky, I. Maqueda, C. Karl, S. Pellegrino, J. Costantine,  Dual-matrix composite wideband antenna structures for CubeSats, AIAA Scitech Forum, Kissimmee, USA, 2015, AIAA 2015-0944.


  • Air Force Office of Scientific Research award No. FA9550-13-1-0061

Multi-functional Composite for Cryogenic Environments

Reduction of microcracking in composites using thin plies

Fiber reinforced polymer composites are an attractive material for lightweight space structures due to their specific stiffness and strength. These structures must in addition be able to withstand harsh temperature environments. This poses a challenges for composites, where mismatch in the thermal expansion of the various constituents is known to result in microcracking upon thermal cycling. We investigate the beneficial effects of thin-ply composites, with ply thicknesses below 70 microns, on microcracking at cryogenic temperatures. Further complexity is introduced through integration of functional elements into the material, for example conductive meshes for antennas and wires for actuation or sensing. Our research focuses on experimental and finite element investigations of the damage mechanisms in these structures.

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