Team Uses Fractal Geometry to Build Lighter StructuresScience Monday, December 3rd, 2012
(Phys.org) A team made up of members from several European countries has published a paper in Physical Review Letters describing a technique they’ve developed for using fractal geometry to build structures that maintain their strength despite weighing significantly less.
The researchers began their study by noting that many structures in the world already demonstrate some degree of fractal geometry. The Eifel Tower for example, they note was essentially built using a single type of metal rod that is replicated in different sizes throughout the tower to minimize weight. What’s not been the case however, they add is a predefined way to implement fractal geometry into structures in general. To rectify that, they have come up with a process that allows for creating metal beams that take advantage of fractal properties.
The first step is to create a hollow metal beam of the size desired for a given project. Next, reengineer the beam by changing its diameter and thickness such that the beam weighs as little as possible but is still able to withstand the weight or pressure it will be subjected to as a final structure. Once that is achieved, label it generation-0. The next step is to create a larger beam made out of generation-0 beams arranged using triangular subdivisions. This next beam is labeled a generation-1 beam. Generation-2 beams would be constructed by replacing all of the generation-1 beams with full scale versions of itself, only in a larger construct. Theoretically, the process can be repeated as many times as is desired or is possible, depending on scale.
The resulting structures weigh less than those made with solid steel because they contain less of it – the more generations used, the lighter the structure becomes proportionally to one made of solid steel…