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Structural Engineering and Materials

Our Research

The group has activity along the broad disciplines of Structural Engineering and Materials. The directions can be split in: i) design and modelling of structures, ii) experimental testing of components and newly developed devices, and iii) structural health monitoring and life-cycle assessment of infrastructure components at all scales.

Design and Modelling

The group focuses on:

  • The static and dynamic response of non-linear systems involving fracture, damage, contact, impact and rocking interfaces, with applications of interest being low tensile capacity interface connections, unanchored equipment, museum artefacts, masonry and heritage structures. Additionally the modelling of infrastructure elements such as bridges and wind turbines.
  • The response of metallic (carbon steel, stainless steel, aluminium) structures to severe loads with a focus on fabricated customized components, welded connections, and thin-walled structures and their response in the regime of instabilities and fatigue failure.
  • The behaviour of origami and deployable structures throughout their whole kinematic range. The results have allowed for efficient packaging and subsequent orderly deployment of large aerospace structures (e.g., solar panels and antennas) and medical devices implanted through minimum invasive surgery (e.g., flow diversion stent for treating cerebral aneurysms), the improvement of the energy absorption properties of tubular and sandwich structures during impacts, the development of morphing metamaterials with properties such as negative Poisson’s ratio capable of large porosity variation, and design of novel soft robotic structures.

Experimental testing of components and newly developed devices

The group pursues multiple synergetic directions within the context of laboratory testing: We are interested in the use and development of real-time hybrid testing algorithms for the testing of structural components using hydraulic actuators., and the dynamic tests of scaled structures and components on a shake table. Furthermore we study and design the testing of components under high loads and the dynamic (fatigue) testing of details aimed towards investigating the strength and life-cycle performance of components in different environment including highly corrosive ones. Example tests of interest are on the strength of duplex high capacity hybrid connections, post-tensioned timber joints or masonry arches. We finally devise smaller scale experiments for testing the behaviour of details of structures and origami based metamaterials.

The group incorporates 3D printing in the development of highly efficient metallic structures and/or origami inspired components. The developments in our origami based research are resulting in electromagnetic metamaterials that can be mechanically actuated to modulate the electromagnetic response of RF and mm wave devices, and miniature deployable flow diversion devices to treat glaucoma.

Structural Health Monitoring

The group works in both the development of Structural Health Monitoring algorithms and the instrumentation and field monitoring of several applications. We work in the development of observability frameworks and system identification algorithms that allow for efficiently inferring the properties of systems using data from sensors. There is further work in exploiting new types of sensors, such as fibre-based sensors, and fusing them with existing vibration sensors. We are interested in imaging based constitutive model identification and vision-based monitoring algorithms for full-field displacement and strain monitoring in the field The group has the capability of performing field vibration monitoring, with acceleration based kits for in-building and open field monitoring as well as camera, laser scanning, laser vibrometry and fibre based kits for field monitoring. Applications of interest include but are not limited to vibrations monitoring of museum artifacts, health monitoring and damage detection of infrastructure elements such as bridges and heritage buildings, offshore-wind farms and monitoring near construction and excavation sites.

The results obtained from health monitoring campaigns are used together with probabilistic lifecycle - environmental or cost - assessments as part of developed multi-criteria decision-making processes, aimed at extending the life-cycle performance of structural and non-structural components. Such frameworks focus on the maintenance activities in alignment with the directions of resilient and sustainable infrastructure. The framework aims to reduce the risk of such elements when subjected to a wide range from excavation, constructions, nearby traffic, sound-induced vibrations , anthropogenic (e.g. visitors in a museum and pedestrians on a bridge), thermal and fire loads, as well as wind and earthquake excitations.

Sustainability  -  Resilience  -  Infrastructure  -  Structural Engineering  -  Materials  -  Metamaterials