The intent of this thesis is to outline the design, analysis, and characterization of an axially compressed piezocomposite actuator and, in particular, to determine the correlation and accuracy of two models used to predict deflection of an axially compressed piezocomposite bimorph. Restrictions in material properties lead to vehicle inefficiencies caused by the discontinuous geometry of deflected control surfaces in unmanned aircraft systems. This performance disadvantage in discrete control surfaces is caused in part by the sharp edges that are formed when the surface is pivoted. Flow continuity over the body of a vehicle is important in minimizing the effects of drag and, in turn, increasing aerodynamic performance. An efficient alternative to discrete control surface actuation is axially compressed piezocomposite actuation which could potentially improve the efficiency of the vehicle in all environments. Bimorph performance in angular deflection and displacement for the PA16N and MFC-M8528-P1 piezocomposites is analyzed using a Classical Laminate Plate Theory (CLPT) model and an Elastica model. Model accuracy is verified through experimental testing of a PA16N bimorph. CLPT model is shown to be accurate to within .05 mm and Elastica model is shown to be accurate to within .04 mm for axial forces below 30 N. Correlation between the mathematical models is confirmed. Experimental results for the PA16N show that a 30 N compression force applied to the bimorph can increase the maximum displacement by approximately 2.5 times the original displacement.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Kauffman, Jeffrey L.


Bachelor Science in Aerospace Engineering (B.S.A.E.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date

August 2016