NASA and MIT researchers have developed a new metamaterial that could be used in futuristic shape-shifting airplane wings. It’s features a lightweight lattice framework that consists of of thousands of repeating, tiny triangles of struts wrapped in a thin polymer layer. When carefully positioned, these struts enable the wing to morph in response to changes in aerodynamic loading conditions, thus making the aircraft more energy efficient. Read more for another picture and additional information.
“The potential for a light-weight, shape-shifting wing raises questions about the ideal aircraft shape. With this technology, we might be able to break away from the “tube with wings” design and utilize a more efficient configuration — possibly an integrated body and wing structure,” reports Engadget.