This article illustrates an approach to develop innovative smart materials based on carbon fiber composites. The proposed approach relies on the use of ultra-light strain sensors that are embedded into the composite and are adopted to monitor in real-time the actual material configuration. Such sensors are composed of electrospun PVDF fibers that exploit piezoelectricity to identify strain and thanks to their extreme lightweight can easily be embedded within the composite layers without affecting the structural integrity. On the other hand, the composite is equipped with a system of internal distributed heaters that can locally and globally vary the composite temperature. Since the adopted epoxy has a considerable temperature-dependent behaviour, it is possible to control its stiffness and thus to control the structural frequencies and damping. By coupling the sensing system with the control system, the structural properties are tuned to match prescribed working conditions, thus optimizing the performance of the proposed smart system. The proposed approach is investigated experimentally by manufacturing prototypes of the smart composite and by performing multiple tests to study the material response and evaluate the obtained performance.
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