SMARTSHELL is a finite-element computer program for analyzing composite-material propulsion-system structural components (including shells) that are characterized as “smart” because they contain integral piezoelectric sensors and/or actuators. The program implements a unique mixed-field laminate theory, developed specifically for piezoelectric composite materials, that utilizes different approximations for response variables in such a manner as to (1) lead to greater accuracy than would otherwise be possible in predicting electric potentials and temperatures while (2) maintaining computational efficiency in determining displacement fields. SMARTSHELL accounts for the effects of thermal-expansion mismatch, pyroelectricity, and temperature-dependent properties of materials. SMARTSHELL is based on the principles of linear thermopiezoelectricity and accounts fully for the coupling of mechanical, electrical, and thermal responses of piezoelectric materials in both their sensory and their active aspects. The use of a curvilinear coordinate system to derive finite elements leads to the capability to model arbitrarily shaped two-and three-dimensional structures. As a result, SMARTSHELL can serve as a comprehensive structural-analysis software tool that offers capabilities for modeling the different shape, vibration, and damping responses of “smart” piezoelectric propulsion-system components.

This program was written by Ho-Jun Lee and Dimitris Saravanos of Glenn Research Center.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to NASA Glenn Research Center, Commercial Technology Office, Attn: Steve Fedor, Mail Stop 4–8, 21000 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44135. Refer to LEW-16854.


NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the November, 2002 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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