A snapped composite specimen is one thing; a theory of how that material will behave when formed into a jet wing is another. But that's what Michopoulos' group has done. "It's highly computationally driven," says Michopoulos. "You cannot write on a small piece of paper a single equation that encapsulates how composites behave."
From 2008-2012, the Co-operative Research Centre Advanced Composite Structures (CRC-ACS) of Australia provided specimens to NRL to test and characterize, while they did their own tests using more traditional methods. (Universities in Australia and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology [MIT] also participated in the project, with support from the Office of Naval Research [ONR].) Says Michopoulos, "We tested 1,152 specimens in 12 days; that has never really happened anywhere anytime before."
Additionally, as Michopoulos explains, ONR said, "CRC-ACS also is going to create specimens that you're not going to test, but instead they are going to test. But you will tell us ahead of time, in a blind prediction, how they're going to behave."