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Seismic Research Gets the Spotlight
Posted by Alison Trost on November 3, 2010 at 8:37 AM.

A system using sacrificial fabricated steel “fingers” to absorb earthquake energy and protect steel-framed buildings recently was named to Popular Mechanics magazine’s top breakthroughs of 2010. The Controlled Rocking Frame system was developed by Gregory Deierlein, Stanford University, and Jerome Hajjar, previously at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana but now at Northeastern University.


The system, which was described more fully here in March and in the news section of the April 2010 MSC, allows buildings to sway with the motion of earthquakes and then return to their original positions. Engineered replaceable shock absorbers absorb energy as the building moves laterally and vertically, shielding the rest of the framing from damage.


“Deierlein and Hajjar asked for our comments on their plan,” said Tom Schlafy, AISC director of research, “which led to a discussion of how to come up with large-scale model for testing.” Ultimately AISC members Tefft Bridge & Iron, Wheatfield, Ind., and Atlanta-based Infra-Metals provided expertise as well as donating a significant amount of materials and financial support for a pseudo-dynamic test at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. To watch a short video of the test online, click here.


Popular Mechanics’ editors cited the system for allowing the quick replacement of the steel “fuses” and restoration of building integrity within a matter of days. To read the article on the Popular Mechanics website, click here.

View all of the top 2010 breakthroughs selected by Popular Mechanics at

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