In a highly ambitious materials development study commissioned by The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), experiments conducted by materials scientists for the American military are successfully creating metals that can not only change shape upon the application of an energy field, but can autonomously ‘self-actuate’, producing intelligent alloys that have their own memory and motion capabilities.
DARPA identifies the research as the Development of Compact Hybrid Actuators based on Ferromagnetic Poly-crystal (Fe-Pd) material, & describes the product as “a robust compact actuator based on polycrystalline ferromagnetic shape memory alloy (FSMA) materials.“ Other possible smart materials technologies being explored for integration into military systems include shape memory alloys, piezoelectric actuators, magneto-rheological fluids and solids, self-healing polymers and coatings.
The goal is to develop and exhibit workable composite materials and processes to sustain the manufacture of multiple military morphing applications. The Military intends to develop a template prototype for improved function in vehicle bodies ready for integration with their existing hardware for operational use. In the process, DARPA are applying a specialized catalogue of smart materials technologies, such as shape memory polymers, self-actuating composites, and dynamic syntactic foams. They also employ smart materials, engineering design, fabrication, and other supporting technologies to meet the goals and requirements of the military industrial complex.
Called Iron-Palladium alloys, these metals possess super-elasticity & shape-shifting capabilities, augmented further by the integration of more ‘intelligent’
components into the alloy, allows it to generate its own energy field to reshape. The metal itself incorporates an ‘electromagnetic driving unit’ and a ‘position sensor with a central unit.’ The Fe-Pd spring actuator is just 15cm in length by a diameter of 3 cm, yet this spring will become an intelligent autonomous machine with a remarkable tensile strength for its own ‘shape memory’.
Optimized for best performance around one operating point & similar in architecture to biological systems, these new actuators are like individual elements arranged in parallel-series assemblies, but use very different building blocks. Upon the generation of an electric current or magnetic field these alloys will, with no moving parts, change shape & rapidly. They are termed ‘compact hybrid actuators’, or ‘living metals’ & are designed to mimic living systems in their versatility and dynamism through the integration of advanced nano-technologies. DARPA’s smart structures engineering team are focused on integrating multiple smart material technologies with conventional actuation mechanisms, and on developing realistic morphing structure concepts for theatre applications. The research will help define near-term morphing abilities, help identify the next enabling materials technologies necessary to round out structural morphing composites, and predict the exponential growth of morphing capabilities.
With the use of combustible fuel sources, the small elements comprising the actuation system achieve high power and energy density, allowing efficient energy conversion via oscillatory and resonant processes. Rather than by valves or power transistors, the power produced is modulated at the individual element level, providing effective efficient power output with less input. Mass production methods via a use of modular architecture where many similar or identical elements are used, allows cost effective manufacture as well as economies of scale. This approach, characterized by the use of many elements systematically interconnected in terms of structure, physical effort, and information is termed Organismic Systems by the scientific community & incorporates the basic principles of nano-technology.
These metals built at the molecular level are essentially machines with complex internal systems & structures that mimic organic ones. The metal alloy actuators are essentially autonomous, the nano-machines incorporated into the metal alloys utilize energy sources at the ‘individual’ level & assign the material characteristics generally attributed to extraterrestrial craft. There are many magnetic anomalies reported by witnesses and researchers that ascribe certain attributes to this material, that have a connection with UFO technology. and a correlation between changing form and magnetic field effects appears to be an important consideration.
Their potential application for the U.S. military has driven them to funding a variety of related research programs exploring the full range of options proposed by private-sector aerospace consortiums including Boeing, M.I.T., Moog and Lockheed Martin in conjunction with several university departments in receipt of grants from the U.S. Military. The entire project is endorsed by the US Army Research Office, the Office Of Naval Research, NASA Langley Research Center, & the Space Operations Vehicle Technology Office, AFRL/VAS at Wright Patterson AFB.
Some of the projects being explored include: the research & development of assault vehicles with self-repairing armored shells that react like living organisms with noise cancellation capabilities to ‘cloak’ them on an auditory level; in-flight navigation, guidance and control systems for smart bombs that lie dormant, that can identify a target through face recognition; shape-changing bombers that transform into jet fighters, including morphing aeroforms in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and fighter aircraft; advanced optical systems for satellite technology, as well as sonar-absorbing materials for submarines with respect to the sonar deductibility of torpedoes; & ‘exo-skeletons’ incorporating neural transmission technologies between the soldier’s brain waves and his living metal smart skin.
The power to drive the actuators is portable, and could be worn like a back-pack by soldiers. Like ‘nano-technology’ designed at a molecular level, the intelligent ‘biological’ actuators have purpose-built machines within them. Placed in the context of brain implants that can pick up neurological information directly, this information could then readily be transferred to the ‘morphing metal’ interface that will be capable of adapting to the complex commands delivered by the brain. other applications include the development of prosthetic limbs made of these alloys that receive direct instruction from the wearer’s brain, & behave like real limbs & muscles.
Highly specialized privatized materials research companies, commissioned to develop this technology, in their design and engineering efforts will focus on integrating new adaptive materials technologies into standard composite armatures. CRG are developing a preliminary prototype design of an adaptive wing structure. By establishing a processing approach to fabrication, validating these fabrication processes to demonstrate a working segment of a morphing wing to prove feasibility, the company hopes to have a working integrated system of manufacture by project’s end. Design considerations for the adaptive wing include wing mass, primary structure, leading and trailing edges, airfoil balance, seamless skin, internal structure, actuation mechanisms, and environmental stability.
These programs will establish the technology necessary to assemble deployable morphing aircraft and other innovative adaptive structure concepts vital to maintain military advantage. In addition to enhancing the aerospace industry’s system platform capabilities, this technology will also enhance the ability to broaden their system capabilities for multiple Department of Defense (DOD) applications planned in the near and far term. This advancement will improve performance for other current or future applications. The development of this technology from prototype to integration and manufacturing will demonstrate the superiority of the Military in the fields of research, development and materials innovation, as well as maintain funding.