The development of smart materials has been gathering pace over the past few years to develop novel concepts for intelligent components and structures with integrated functionalities that are able to communicate and interact with their environment, store data about their condition and react accordingly to external stimuli. Research in the areas of biomimetic bio-inspired engineering and nanomaterials can provide several examples of the development of smart materials and has seen a significant expansion. Examples include materials that can alter their physical properties, (e.g. viscosity, shape, colour and more) in response to temperature, stress, electrical or magnetic fields, convert sunlight into electricity, store energy, etc. Smart materials have also been used extensively in sensor developments in aerospace and automotive applications with the aim of producing intelligent structures and components that provide information of their in-service conditions However, there are several concepts that have not yet been implemented in industrial scale. Such technologies include self-repair or self-healing materials, materials for vibration suppression, lightweight composites that can inform the user of any internal damage without the need of time consuming and expensive Non-destructive Examination (NDE), materials or structures that can undergo shape change either passively or by activation, Functionally Graded composite Materials (FGMs), energy storing components, etc. There is a need for predictive modelling of materials functionalities for those materials for which there are currently no accurate commercial or open-source codes available.
Proposals are sought to address specific industrial needs and facilitate the implementation of smart materials for applications in transport, consumer goods and ICT. The potential extension of these applications to other industrial sectors such as e.g. oil & gas and petrochemicals will be an asset. The technical challenges to be addressed relate to the development, processing and integration of smart materials with new functionalities, as e.g. for: advanced sensors (nanosensor technologies), damage detection, self-repair, self-actuation, self-sensing morphing, magnetic functionality (for non-magnetic materials), optical functionality, sound and vibration damping, thermal management in ICT applications. Material concepts based on bio-inspired solutions can also be considered. Modelling of the properties of relevance to manufacturing should be considered and further developed. Although the materials most suited to such development are lightweight advanced composites from different material classes, (like multiferroics, polymeric, ceramic, glass or metal matrix composites, organic fibrous materials). It is expected that such smart materials may make use of the unique properties possessed by nanoparticles and therefore the development of nanomaterial based intelligent components will be within the scope of the call. The development of such material structures has to be accompanied by high resolution analytical tools that are able to simulate and characterise the materials on all scales and, moreover, to track and reveal their function –structure relations in situ. The functionalities of smart materials will require the identification of gaps in standards and future pre-normative activities will have to be addressed as part of the scope. For this topic proposals should also be able to demonstrate in addition to the development concept, the feasibility of such technologies in terms of cost, production and processing methodologies, reuse/recycling of materials at end of life and reliability. Industrial and/or additional experimental partners should ensure broad validation and adoption of both the software and the materials.
The implementation of this topic is intended to start at TRL 4 and target TRL 6.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 5 and 8 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
The implementation of novel smart material technologies is expected to pave the way for innovative environmentally friendly smart products:
Enhancing the knowledge base in the EU not only at the R&D level but also at the manufacturing and production level, creating a highly skilled workforce with improved levels of job satisfaction.
Proposals should include a business case and exploitation strategy, as outlined in the Introduction to the LEIT part of this Work Programme.