Standard Article

Smart Structures

  1. Pavel Bystricky

Published Online: 20 JUL 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118097298.weoc226

Wiley Encyclopedia of Composites

Wiley Encyclopedia of Composites

How to Cite

Bystricky, P. 2012. Smart Structures. Wiley Encyclopedia of Composites. 1–19.

Author Information

  1. Mat-IQ, L.L.C, Lexington, MA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 20 JUL 2012


While conventional structures are usually designed to fulfill a single primary purpose, smart structures add the ability to sense changes in their environment and use that information in a timely manner in ways that augment their functionality. Smart structures today are increasingly found in applications as diverse as analysis and reporting of damage (health monitoring), in situ repair of structural damage (self-healing), and physical adaptability and active response to various operating conditions (morphing structures). In this article, we start with a review of the main classes of smart materials that make building smart structures possible. We review the fundamental principles that give these materials “smart” functionality, allowing them to sense external stimuli, adapt, and respond in various ways. We also provide a detailed example of implementation of a smart structure in the real world. The ever-increasing variety of smart materials, each with very different capabilities and requirements, gives the designer of smart structures multiple options as well as challenges in this still maturing field. Smart materials, when combined with sophisticated signal processing and control hardware made possible by modern electronics, open the door for new generations of smart structures with advanced capabilities—such as the ability to “learn” and respond accordingly—that may one day blur the line between inanimate and living systems.


  • smart structures;
  • smart materials;
  • adaptive systems;
  • sensing;
  • actuation;
  • transducers;
  • piezoelectric materials;
  • shape memory