Jul 1, 2019

Functionally graded materials for space structures

Long-term exploration missions will require materials with high mechanical and thermal properties [1]. To protect from extreme environments, the space-resilient structures design have multi-material approaches [2,3]. These materials are typically independently manufactured for every layer of the structure, which might contribute to challenges regarding mismatch between materials, in terms of fretting wear, fatigue, fracture, corrosion, and stress corrosion cracking [4]. Functionally graded layers can serve as an optimal transition between two incompatible materials. They are designed with specific performances or functions in a gradient structure and/or composition to achieve tailored features [5]. Functionally graded materials are considered high-performance contrary to monolithic approaches and are evaluated as advantageous in maximizing the capabilities of in-space resources [6].

Project overview

The project will investigate the feasibility of an additively manufactured functionally graded material with in-situ resources. The aim is to develop a gradient from lunar soil to an alloy/metal in view of its potential application for aerospace components and space habitats. This Ariadna study is conducted in collaboration with our partners at the Material Science and Engineering Department, Prof. Vera A. Popovich at the Delft University of Technology. It aims to develop the composite at the level of concept validation and to evaluate it for thermal and mechanical properties.


  1. H. Benaroya, "Building Habitats on the Moon", Chapter 4 and 8, Springer International Publishing AG (2008).
  2. W. Grandl, "Lunar Base 2015 Stage 1 Preliminary Design Study", Acta Astronautica 60 (4-7) pp.554-560 (2007).
  3. G. Cesaretti, E. Dini, X. De Kestelier, V. Colla, L. Pambaguian, "Building components for an outpost on the Lunar soil by means of a novel 3D printing technology". Acta Astronautica, 93, 430–450 (2014).
  4. X. Zhang, Y. Chen, and J. Hu, "Recent advances in the development of aerospace materials", Progress in Aerospace Sciences. Elsevier Ltd, 97(January), pp. 35–60 (2018).
  5. A. Mortensen, S. Suresh, "Functionally graded metals and metal-ceramic composites: Part 1 Processing", International Materials Reviews, 40(6), pp. 239–265 (2014).
  6. M. Naebe, K. Shirvanimoghaddam, "Functionally graded materials: A review of fabrication and properties", Applied Materials Today. Elsevier Ltd, 5, pp. 223–245 (2016).
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Advanced Concepts Team