Coupled electro-mechanical system modeling and experimental investigation of piezoelectric actuator-driven adaptive structures

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Virginia Tech


Of primary importance to the design and application of adaptive structures is a modeling method to allow for performance prediction and parametric optimization of the integrated system. The statics-based modeling approaches have been applied to model piezoelectric (PZT) actuator-driven adaptive structures. The dynamic interaction between the actuators and their host structures has been ignored, and the system energy conversion can’t be predicted. As a matter of fact, PZT actuator-driven smart structures are complex electromechanical coupling systems in which electrical energy is converted into mechanical energy and vice-versa. The actuator outputs and the system energy conversion are dominated by the complex electro-mechanical impedance of the system. The entire actuator/substrate system can thus be essentially represented by a coupled impedance-based system model. This research presents such an impedance-based electro-dynamics analytical method and the experimental investigation for integrated PZT/substrate systems. When compared with the conventional static models, the system modeling method has revealed the physical essence and the interconnections among the intelligent elements and supporting structures. The frequency-dependent behaviors of the actuator and the dynamic response of the integrated system are accurately predicted.

The theoretical model was developed for generic PZT actuator-driven active structures. The actuation force was evaluated as a result of the dynamic interaction between the actuator and the host structure. The model was then extended to include the electrical parameters of the PZT actuator such that the power flow and consumption of the integrated system can be predicted. The system dissipative power was then treated as the equivalent generation source to evaluate a temperature rise and thermal damage of the actuator. To examine the utility and generality of the system modeling method, the developed model was applied to typical two-dimensional structures such as thin plates and thin shells, and to one-dimensional structures such as the circular rings and beams. The design-related mechanical and thermal stress characteristics of the actuators were also specifically investigated.

In addition to the theoretical work, experiments were conducted. The PZT actuator-driven simply-supported plate was built and tested. The velocity response of the integrated plate and the dynamic strain of the PZT actuators were measured. The coupled electromechanical admittance of the real system was also directly measured using an impedance analyzer. The predicted solutions agree with the experimental results in all of the tested cases, verifying the theoretical model.