Research group "Intelligent materials"

Motivation

Transport infrastructure forms the basis of mobility and societal prosperity. Current material concepts applied to transport infrastructure are typically based on conventional concrete, which often, due to deterioration and damage, entails limitations in infrastructure performance and efficiency. Mobility of the 21st century and the implementation of "new" technological concepts, such as autonomous driving, alternative drive systems and smart city concepts, require investigating new materials and material combinations to advance infrastructure performance and efficiency.

Goals and strategies

This research group aims at developing so-called "Concrete 2.0", representing a high-performance material for transport infrastructure of the 21st century, that is smart, adaptive, and multifunctional. The goal will be achieved through three basic research strategies, to be conducted concurrently by the project partners involved in this research group:

  1. Smart, adaptive, and multifunctional concrete must be self-aware of its condition to be able to execute pro-active actions. Therefore, as part of strategy 1, intelligent, material-integrated sensor systems will be developed and optimized. Based on the optimized sensor systems, integrated sensor and actuator concepts will be developed, facilitating pro-active actions by the concrete, to be executed both autonomously and in coordination with the encapsulation strategy pursued in strategy 2.
  2. The second strategy involves encapsulating self-healing agents as well as investigating new ways of releasing the agents. Releasing encapsulated self-healing agents will be initiated (i) by actuator signals (i.e., specific waveforms) as described above (strategy 1) or (ii) by changes in the material properties, such as local cracks, of the concrete, representing a more traditional approach. The strategy will enable self healing of the “Concrete 2.0”, taking into account external, IoT-based information describing the overall system instead of being restricted to local cracks.
  3. Strategy 3 aims at functionalization and microstructuring of aggregates, which, so far, have merely served as support structures in concrete. By functionalization and microstructuring, it is expected to enhance the damping properties, enabling the concrete fulfill other functions relevant to transport infrastructure, e.g., preventing of microcracks and advancing noise reduction.

In the second project phase, the research strategies described above will be merged and materialized in specific transport infrastructure applications. Upon completion of the project, it is expected to achieve adaptive, “intelligent” concrete for transport infrastructure, characterized by multi-functionality, which may support critical functions relevant to transport infrastructure, such as reduction of noise and air pollution..

Sensor and actuator concepts

Within the research group, the Chair of Computing in Civil Engineering, will focus on developing new sensor and actuator concepts to be implemented into the concrete for achieving a so-called “sensorial material” (strategy 1). First, new design concepts for sensorial material and, specifically, for material-integrated, miniaturized, intelligent sensors are proposed. The intelligent sensors are then optimized to autonomously analyze sensor data and to reliably control the material-integrated actuators. Sensor/actuator combinations are able to self-detect changes in the concrete, using embedded algorithms and, being wirelessly connected to sensor networks, taking advantage of IoT-based communication. Based upon autonomous decision making of the intelligent sensors, the material-integrated actuators are enabled to initiate the self-healing mechanisms of the concrete by triggering the release of the encapsulated self-healing agents though actuator signals. Extending the communication functionalities of the sensor/actuator combinations, the implementation is done following the principles of IoT-enabled cyber-physical systems, enabling the “Concrete 2.0” to communicate with other components of the virtual and the real world.

Project information

  • Program and funding source: Carl Zeiss Foundation (Research group within the program "Breakthroughs – excellence in research")
  • Budget: 5,490,000.00 EUR (thereof 4,500,000.00 EUR Carl Zeiss Foundation)
  • Project duration: 2020-2025
  • Full title of the research group: "Intelligent materials – Functionalization of smart materials under multi-field requirements for transport infrastructure"

Project partners

  • Chair of Construction Materials (Coordination)
  • Chair of Computing in Civil Engineering
  • Chair of Building Chemistry and Polymer Materials
  • Chair of Computational Mechanics
  • Chair of Stochastics and Optimization
  • Chair of Structural Analysis and Component Strength
  • K-UTEC AG Salt Technologies
  • BRACE GmbH

Project-related publications

  • Coming soon...

Contact
Professor Dr. Kay Smarsly
Bauhaus University Weimar
Computing in Civil Engineering
Coudraystraße 7, Room 518
99423 Weimar
GERMANY
Email: kay.smarsly[at]uni-weimar.de