Researchers at NASA and MIT teamed up to design the innovative airplane wing which makes the aircraft more efficient in terms of energy.
A news article was published in the journal Smart Materials and Structures on April 1, 2019, which reports the research team at NASA and MIT designed the innovative airplane wing. The novel structure has a lightweight framework made up of repeating tiny triangles resembling matchstick struts which are covered in polymer sheet. The metamaterial have mostly empty space which is the cause for its lightweight.
The neatly positioned struts permit the wings of the airplane to change its shape automatically keeping the aerodynamic loading in mind. Adapting to such conditions make the aircraft possible to be more efficient in terms of energy consumption. However, this idea is not a novel concept, it was presented in the recent past but it is only now that the researchers have been able to give importance to the idea by developing innovative wing. The time required to manufacture the hollow cubes and tiny triangle struts has come down from minutes to just seventeen seconds. The prototype designed by the team of researchers was handmade however, it is designed in a manner that in the coming future, autonomous tiny robots will have the capability to assemble these wings at a jiffy.
The success of these lightweight wings have definitely raised questions regarding the ideal shape of the aircraft. The innovative structure has created room to use this technology for integrated airplane structure and wing design ensuring energy efficiency in aircrafts. However this structure has to travel a long way to be commercialized. Nevertheless, it certainly has many applications such as structures of a blade in wind turbines to produce more energy.