Using instability to reconfigure smart structures in a spring-mass model

Jiaying Zhang, Colin R. McInnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


Multistable phenomenon have long been used in mechanism design. In this paper a subset of unstable configurations of a smart structure model will be used to develop energy-efficient schemes to reconfigure the structure. This new concept for reconfiguration uses heteroclinic connections to transition the structure between different unstable equal-energy states. In an ideal structure model zero net energy input is required for the reconfiguration, compared to transitions between stable equilibria across a potential barrier. A simple smart structure model is firstly used to identify sets of equal-energy unstable configurations using dynamical systems theory. Dissipation is then added to be more representative of a practical structure. A range of strategies are then used to reconfigure the smart structure using heteroclinic connections with different approaches to handle dissipation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-92
Number of pages12
JournalMechanical Systems and Signal Processing
Early online date10 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2017


  • mechanism design
  • smart structures
  • heteroclinic connections


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