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Bioinspired hierarchical design of multifunctional, adaptive materials for hardened munitions



OBJECTIVE: The objective of this proposal is to investigate approaches of designing and developing adaptable and multifunctional bioinspired hierarchical materials that can be manufactured and implemented for hardening munitions against multiple vulnerabilities including thermal (e.g., heat transfer and thermal management), mechanical (e.g., weight, erosion), chemical/environmental (e.g., corrosion and harsh environments) and high energy radiations (e.g., directed energy weapons) during service and/or storage. 

DESCRIPTION: With the rapid technology proliferation and the ensuing capabilities in the hands of the adversaries could seriously undermine the U.S. Army’s superiority in the future warfare. Further, as the global security environment is becoming increasingly complex and fragile, the agility to operate in dynamic and disparate military/urban environments is of paramount importance. It is imperative that the U.S. Army should be prepared for instantaneous conflict resolution with swift actions and with ready capabilities [1, 2]. In this regard, the current advances in materials need to be leveraged for developing resilient and precision strikes using armaments which have low vulnerability and that are least susceptible to countermeasures. There exists in nature complex hierarchical structures [3-6] exhibiting a myriad of extraordinary properties. This has created an interesting discipline of designing new bioinspired hierarchical materials leveraging the principles of biomimicry. Using the bioinspired hierarchical materials as the basis, a new armaments focused materials genome initiative could be envisioned that would serve to create armaments which have unprecedented high damage tolerance to thermal, mechanical, chemical, high energy radiations and other environmental threat factors. This topic endeavors to develop the fundamentals of such an armaments focused materials genome. 

PHASE I: Investigate novel approaches for designing and developing adaptable and multifunctional bioinspired hierarchical materials that can be manufactured and implemented for hardening munitions against multiple vulnerabilities including thermal, mechanical, chemical/environmental and high energy radiations during service and/or storage. The hierarchical materials space could include nanostructured inorganic, organic, and/or hybrid inorganic/organic composites including low dimensional materials (e.g. graphene). The individual layers in the stack may be patterned to produce pixelated surfaces consisting of meta-atoms with specific properties (e.g. thermal tunability) that can be controlled by external stimuli. In this manner, a heterogeneous pixelated layers in the stack can be achieved for true adaptability with multifunctional characteristics. From the get-go the design philosophy should be driven by easily implementable and manufacturable solutions. Phase I will identify material considerations, the design methodologies and modeling and simulation tools for constructing the hierarchical structures. In addition, prototype structures that demonstrate mitigation of vulnerabilities in one or more areas will be made. At the end of phase I, while designs and approaches are not optimized for true multifunctional operation, areas for further improvements and methods for practical implementation will be identified. 

PHASE II: Detailed physics based models will be developed for understanding the meta-atoms interactions with the external stimuli that drive the structure-property relations and the adaptable multifunctionality. Functionally graded materials, nano-porous compositions, self-similar structures etc., will be considered as part of the design space. Methods will be explored for adaptive and agile multifunctionality by application of external stimuli to the hierarchical materials. Phase II will culminate with deliverables that include modeling and simulation methodologies for the design of adaptive, multifunctional bioinspired hierarchical materials for applications towards hardening munitions against thermal, mechanical, chemical and high energy radiation and prototype demonstrations of a design (s) with multifunctionality, adaptability and improved sustainability against several of the vulnerabilities. It is imperative that the prototype demonstrations shall demonstrate multifunctionality in synergy and not in isolation. 

PHASE III: Phase III will entail further research and refinement of the designs of Phase II along with modeling and simulation towards advancing the building blocks of the armaments focused materials genome. The effort through all the phases will be coordinated with the stakeholders in all the three services which will facilitate definition of the requirements and transition of the technology. Strategic partnerships will be developed to further the commercialization potential of the technology. 


1: THE ARMY VISION - Strategic Advantage in a Complex World.

2:  Force 2025 and Beyond - The U.S. Army’s Holistic Modernization Strategy, Jan 2015.

3:  L. Mishnaevsky and M. Tsapatsis, "Hierarchical materials: Background and perspectives," Materials Research Society Bulletin, vol. 41, issue 9, September 2016.

4:  H. Gao, "Learning from Nature about Principles of Hierarchical Materials," 3rd International Nanoelectronics Conference, 3-8 Jan. 2010.

5:  Galo J. de A. A. Soler-Illia et al., "Chemical Strategies To Design Textured Materials: from Microporous and Mesoporous Oxides to Nanonetworks and Hierarchical Structures," Chem. Rev. 102, 4093-4138, 2002. 6. A.R. Parker, "515 million years of structural color," J. Opt. A: Pure Appl. Opt. 2, R15–R28, 2000.

KEYWORDS: Hierarchical Materials, Bioinspired/biomimicry, Multifunctionality, Adaptive Designs, Nano-porous Materials, Inorganic, Organic, Hybrid Inorganic/organic Nanostructures, Self-similar Structures, Meta-atoms, Armaments Focused Material Genome 


Venkataraman Swaminathan 

(973) 724-7455 

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