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Our research focus is on structures that change shape to enable novel space missions. Key areas include the design, fabrication, and testing of deployable spacecraft structures: structures that need to be folded inside compact volumes for launch and then unfolded in space.

Origami-Inspired Structures

Starshade inner disk prototype

Designs inspired by origami forms can enable novel deployable spacecraft structures. Such structures can present large planar areas that can be useful for solar arrays, sunshields, or starshades. The use of origami mechanics provides guarantees foldability with minimal strain, and a continuous planar structure when deployed.

Ultralightweight Flexible Composite Structures

Coiled composite reflector

The use of ultra-thin fiber-reinforced composite materials enables morphing structures to use bending and twisting to access novel folding methods. At the same time, fiber reinforcement provides deployed stiffness, accuracy, and stability.

Structures for Small Satellites

Prototype radio reflector in anechoic chamber

Small spacecraft are revolutionizing access to space. Deployable structures can enable small spacecraft to carry out missions; for example, increasing power capabilities by deploying a large solar array, or increasing communication data rates by unfolding a large antenna reflector, or increasing remote sensing capabilities by providing novel radio-frequency antennas.