Maria Sakovsky's work focuses on the use of shape adaptation to realize space structures with reconfigurable geometry, stiffness, and even non-mechanical performance (ex. electromagnetic, optical). Particular focus is placed on the mechanics of thin fiber reinforced composite structures, the interplay between composite material properties and structural geometry, as well as embedded functionality and actuation of lightweight structures. The work has led to applications in deployable space structures, reconfigurable antennas, and soft robotics.

Maria Sakovsky received her BSc in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Toronto. Following this, she completed her MSc and PhD in Space Engineering at Caltech, where she developed a deployable satellite antenna based on origami concepts utilizing elastomer composites. She concurrently worked with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on developing cryogenically rated thin-​ply composite antennas for deep space missions. For her ongoing research on physically reconfigurable antennas, she was awarded the ETH Zürich postdoctoral fellowship as well as the Innovation Starting Grant.

Academic Appointments

Program Affiliations

  • Stanford SystemX Alliance

Stanford Advisees

All Publications

  • Dynamically reprogrammable stiffness in gecko-inspired laminated structures SMART MATERIALS AND STRUCTURES Chen, K., Sakovsky, M. 2024; 33 (1)
  • A multi-stable deployable quadrifilar helix antenna with radiation reconfigurability for disaster-prone areas. Nature communications Bichara, R. M., Costantine, J., Tawk, Y., Sakovsky, M. 2023; 14 (1): 8511


    In disaster-prone areas, damaged infrastructure requires impromptu communications leveraging lightweight and adaptive antennas. Accordingly, we introduce a bi-stable deployable quadrifilar helix antenna that passively reconfigures its radiation characteristics in terms of pattern and polarization. The proposed structure is composed of counter-rotating helical strips, connected by rotational joints to allow a simultaneous change in the helix height and radius. Each helical strip is composed of a fiber-reinforced composite material to achieve two stable deployed states that are self-locking. The reconfiguration between an almost omnidirectional pattern and a circularly polarized directive pattern enables the antenna to be suitable for both terrestrial and satellite communication within the L-band. More specifically, the presented design in infrastructure-less areas achieves satellite localization with directive circularly polarized waves and point-to-point terrestrial connectivity with an almost omnidirectional state. Hence, we present a portable, agile, and passively reconfigured antenna solution for low-infrastructure areas.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-023-44189-9

    View details for PubMedID 38129404

    View details for PubMedCentralID 10056457

  • Electromagnetic Reconfiguration Using Stretchable Mechanical Metamaterials. Advanced science (Weinheim, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany) Sakovsky, M., Negele, J., Costantine, J. 2023: e2203376


    Response to environmental thermomechanical inputs in applications that range from wearable electronics to aerospace structures necessitates agile communication systems driven by reconfigurable electromagnetic structures. Antennas in these systems must dynamically preserve acceptable radiation characteristics while enabling on-demand performance reconfiguration. However, existing reconfiguration mechanisms through stretchable conductors rely on high-strain behavior in soft substrates, which limits their applicability. Herein, this work demonstrates the use of mechanical metamaterials for stretchable conductors and dielectrics in antennas. Metamaterials allow conductor stretching up to 30% with substrate base material tensile moduli ranging from 26 MPa to 44 GPa. It is shown, through several antenna designs, that mechanical metamaterials enable similar frequency reduction upon stretching as monolithic conductors, while simultaneously providing a miniaturization effect. The conductor patterning, furthermore, provides control over coupling between mechanical stretching and electromagnetic reconfiguration. This approach enables designing reconfigurable antenna functionality through metamaterial geometry in response to arising needs in applications ranging from body-adapted electronics to space vehicles.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/advs.202203376

    View details for PubMedID 36599682

  • Thin ply composite materials with embedded functional elements for cryogenic environments MATERIALS LETTERS Sakovsky, M., Mihaly, J. 2023; 330
  • A Highly Multi-Stable Meta-Structure via Anisotropy for Large and Reversible Shape Transformation. Advanced science (Weinheim, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany) Risso, G., Sakovsky, M., Ermanni, P. 2022: e2202740


    Shape transformation offers the possibility of realizing devices whose 3D shape can be altered to adapt to different environments. Many applications would profit from reversible and actively controllable shape transformation together with a self-locking capability. Solutions that combine such properties are rare. Here, a novel class of meta-structures that can tackle this challenge is presented thanks to multi-stability. Results demonstrate that the multi-stability of the meta-structure is strictly tied to the use of highly anisotropic materials. The design rules that enable large-shape transformation, programmability, and self-locking are derived, and it is proven that the shapes can be actively controlled and harnessed to realize inchworm-inspired locomotion by strategically actuating the meta-structure. This study provides routes toward novel shape adaptive lightweight structures where a metamaterial-inspired assembly of anisotropic components leads to an unforeseen combination of properties, with potential applications in reconfigurable space structures, building facades, antennas, lenses, and softrobots.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/advs.202202740

    View details for PubMedID 35861407

  • A thin -shell shape adaptable composite metamaterial COMPOSITE STRUCTURES Sakovsky, M., Ermanni, P. 2020; 246