In Paolo Ermanni’s laboratory at the ETH in Zurich, the composite materials of the future are developed. By optimizing the core elements of sandwich structures, the researchers create materials that are extremely light, robust and adaptable at once – and thus ideal for aerospace applications.
Lightweight sandwich structures. The cores of these composite materials contain a truss construction of carbon fibre rods. By optimizing the arrangement of the rods, the material can be tailored to specific applications. (Photograph: ETH Zürich / Christoph Karl, CMASLab)
Materials that are light and robust, inherently stable and still easily adjustable, and which can also be produced sustainably and in a resource-friendly way – what may appear as impossible as squaring the circle becomes a reality day after day in Paolo Ermanni’s lab at the ETH in Zurich. “It is our philosophy to develop modern composite materials for adaptive systems and, while doing so, to optimize their structural efficiency – that is, obtaining the same performance with fewer resources or better functionality with the same amount of material”, says Paolo Ermanni, professor for Composite Materials and Adaptive Structures at ETH. At the same time, he and his collaborators investigate appropriate production processes that make the new materials interesting for practical applications.