Park’s Project Aimed at Nimbler, Fuel-Frugal Fighter Jets
Professor Harold Park (ME, MSE) is part of a team that has won a Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) grant from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to revolutionize the passive control of aerodynamic flows. With $7.5 million over five years, Park and colleagues will use novel metamaterials to modify the flow of air over the wings of a jet.
“If all goes well, we will develop an understanding of how to reduce turbulent drag,” says Park. The researchers will use metamaterials—artificial materials engineered to have properties not found in nature—to suppress the rocky transition from smooth flow to turbulent flow. “Potential benefits to this would be reducing airplane weight, which is typically needed to combat turbulence, and thus increasing fuel efficiency, while improving maneuverability,” Park says. “This could be important for military applications, since you typically need to slow down to reduce turbulence.”
Park has expertise computationally designing metamaterials that can propagate energy from one point to another without loss, and that can couple loads and dynamics from different directions. “The scientific question to answer in this project,” says Park, “is how to take metamaterials that can propagate energy in specific directions, and understand how that impacts air flows.”
Park’s team includes colleagues at the California Institute of Technology, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Theirs was one of just 31 projects to be awarded MURI grants this year, out of 259 submissions. The aim of the program is to assemble multidisciplinary teams whose collective insights can advance cutting-edge technologies geared to defense problems.