Ph.D. Proposal Presentation by Carolyn Conner Seepersad
Friday, November 22, 2002

(Drs. Farrokh Mistree and Janet Allen, co-advisors)

"A Robust Topology Exploration Method for Designing Multi-functional Cellular Materials"


Materials design is an emerging multidisciplinary research field in which general methods are developed for designing materials with specific performance characteristics. The topology of a material—the geometric arrangement and connectivity of material(s) and void within a domain—is an important design parameter for materials design. Advanced manufacturing processes like linear cellular alloy fabrication and additive fabrication facilitate topological tailoring of material with high levels of detail; thus, it is feasible to design and manufacture multifunctional materials with desirable properties in fundamentally distinct domains, like structural mechanics and heat transfer. While research in topology design has addressed the issue of optimal material distribution for a limited set of structural objectives in a deterministic environment, there is a need for developing systematic, topological design methods that are applicable for exploring multifunctional material designs in non-deterministic environments.

In response, a robust topology exploration method is proposed that integrates robust design techniques, approximate models, detailed analysis, and multi-objective design decisions with topological design techniques. Several activities are involved in developing a robust topology exploration method, including: (1) extending existing structural topology design techniques to accommodate multiple functions or objectives and multiple, ranged sets of boundary conditions, (2) incorporating these topology exploration techniques into the Robust Concept Exploration Method—thereby creating a robust topology exploration method, (3) developing topological design for manufacturing techniques that facilitate robust design for manufacturing variability and evaluation of manufacturing feasibility in the early topological stages of design, and (4) validating and demonstrating the proposed approach. Examples involve designing multifunctional material structures composed of linear (or extruded) cellular materials for applications like structural heat exchangers or actively cooled structural panels that are required to resist structural bending and membrane forces while transferring heat away from high heat flux regions