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Discovery
Strong, elastic "smart materials" aid design of earthquake-resistant bridges

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Samples of cement-polyvinyl fiber mixture; fiberglass column; carbon fiber column; nickel titanium

Traditional bridge columns are constructed from concrete and reinforced steel, which are seldom effective against earthquakes. But new research suggests that replacing concrete and steel with smart materials is a good alternative. From left: cement-polyvinyl fiber mixture; fiberglass column; carbon fiber column; nickel titanium shape memory alloy, or nitinol.

Credit: Dr. M. Saiid Saiidi, NEES@University of Nevada, Reno


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To test the performance of the smart materials, a shake table test was conducted on columns constructed with each material. Here, a roughly 8.0 magnitude earthquake is applied to a conventional steel and concrete bridge. (The results were later compared to the data collected for the smart material tests.)

Credit: Dr. M. Saiid Saiidi, NEES@University of Nevada, Reno

 

Photo of Misha Raffiee

Author Misha Raffiee is an undergraduate at the California Institute of Technology. She began work on the NSF/NEES 4-Span Bridge Project following her graduation from high school at age 15, and was one of the project presenters at the National Science Foundation Hazards Research Showcase at the United States Senate.

Credit: Dr. M. Saiid Saiidi, NEES@University of Nevada, Reno


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