smart composites (rus. "умные" композиты otherwise самоорганизующиеся системы) — specially structured system consisting of subsystems intended for external signal (action) read-out, its processing, execution of certain actions (functional response), feedback, self-diagnostics and self-repairing (if the action is reversible).


Each element of such a system has specific functions supported by relevant properties of materials developed for this purpose. The entire system is structured in such a way as to perform a self-controlled "smart" action similar to the functioning of a living organism capable of "taking a decision and performing an action".

The most common examples of smart materials on the basis of which such a system can be built:

- shape-memorizing alloys and polymers in which deformation can be induced and recovered through temperature or magnetic field changes;

- pH-sensitive polymers that expand or collapse when they experience changes in the pH of the environment;

- temperature-responsive polymers that undergo changes of properties triggered by variations of ambient temperature;

- halochromic, electrochromic, thermochromic, photochromic materials that alter their colour (transmission) under the influence of changes in pH, intensity of electric field, temperature or light, correspondingly;

- non-Newtonian fluids that change their viscosity (up to no flow condition) as the shear rate changes.

The recent advances in the field of functional nanomaterials and "smart" systems are achieved through control of their structure and composition using a "bottom-up" approach; such advances are based on previously developed molecular, nano- and micromaterials which were the first step in combining functional nanomaterials with a logical system.

Composites with "embedded" sensors (optical, piezoelectric, acoustic) ensuring material monitoring during manufacturing, testing and operation are conventionally referred to as passive "smart" composites, whereas composites whose structure includes elements that govern the structural behaviour are referred to as active composites. The best known composites of this type are materials that contain shape-memory elements or piezoelectric devices that suppress vibration.


  • Lourie Sergey
  • Mileiko Sergey T.
  • Nazarov Victor G.


  1. Concise Encyclopedia of Composite Materials / Ed. by A. Kelly. — Elsevier Science, 1994. — 378 p.

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