Due to recent advances in polymers, photovoltaics, and batteries a unique type of aircraft may be feasible. This is a "solid-state" aircraft, with no conventional mechanical moving parts. Airfoil, propulsion, energy production, energy storage and control are combined in an integrated structure. The key material of this concept is an ionic polymeric-metal composite (IPMC) that provides source of control and propulsion. This material has the unique capability of deforming in an electric field and returning to its original shape when the field is removed. Combining the IPMC with thin-film batteries and thin-film photovoltaics provides both energy source and storage in the same structure. The characteristics of the materials enables flapping motion of the wing to be utilized to generate the main propulsive force. Analysis shows that a number of design configurations can be produced to enable flight over a range of latitudes on Earth, Venus and possibly Mars.

Meeting Name

2004 NASA/DoD Conference on Evolvable Hardware, 2004


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

IPMC; Aerospace Engineering; Aircraft; Airfoil; Batteries; Composite Materials; Design Configuration; Electric Field Deformation; Energy Control; Energy Production; Energy Source; Energy Storage; Flapping Motion; Integrated Structure; Ionic Polymeric-Metal Composite; Photovoltaics; Polymers; Power Control; Propulsion; Solid State Aircraft; Space Vehicle Electronics; Space Vehicle Power Plants; Thin Film Devices; Thin Films

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





© 2004 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2004