Biologically inspired autonomous solar tracker made with 4D printed shape-changing architectured composite materials for lunar environment (2020-2023)

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  • Collaborative project between : Institut de Recherche Dupuy de Lôme (IRDL) + Procédés et Ingénierie en Mécanique et Matériaux (PIMM) + ESA ESTEC + IRT Saint-Exupery + ACCIS Bristol
  • Funds (IRT Saint Exupery/ ESA (Off-earth manufacturing and building AAP)
  • Candidate : Roxane Toumi
  • Academic guidance : Antoine le Duigou, Mickael Castro and Justin Dirrenberger
  • Scientific advisor : Fabrizio Scarpa
  • Industrial Guidance : Raffaele D’Elia and Ugo Lafont

Human exploration beyond Earth is experiencing a remarkable resurgence. Such goals can only be achieved with appropriate infrastructure maximizing the use of local resources and minimizing maintenance. In order to maximize the yields of solar panels, solar trackers are part of these technologies. They are essentially made up of mechanical or pneumatic actuation systems which make it possible to adapt the inclination of the solar panel to the path of the sun. These systems are unfortunately subject to failures due to their assembly. The original idea of the research work is to draw inspiration from the principle of heliotropism (tracking the sun) present in the Sunflower to design and simulate, manufacture, characterize and optimize the response to the lunar environment of new adaptive composite materials ( photo-thermo-sensitive) architectured by 4D printing.

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