Considerations of the Impedance Method, Wave Propagation, and Wireless Systems for Structural Health Monitoring

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Virginia Tech

The research presented in this thesis is all based on the impedance method for structural health monitoring. The impedance method is an electro-mechanical technique which utilizes a single piezoelectric transducer as both a sensor and actuator. Due to the high frequencies of excitation used for the method, the sensing area for damage detection can be very localized. Previous work has shown that wave propagation can be added to systems already equipped with hardware for impedance-based structural health monitoring. The work in this thesis shows what happens under varying temperature conditions for a structure being monitored with wave propagation. A technique to compensate for temperature fluctuations is also presented.

The work presented here is an initial study to directly correlate the actual amount of damage in a composite specimen with a damage metric indicated by impedance-based structural health monitoring. Two different damage mechanisms are examined: transverse matrix cracking and edge delamination. With both composite defects, a sample is interrogated with the impedance method before and after damage is introduced. The exact amount of damage in each specimen is found using radiography and compared with the health monitoring results.

Traditional impedance techniques require the use of a bulky and expensive impedance analyzer. With the trend of structural health monitoring moving towards unobtrusive sensors which can be permanently placed on a structure, an impedance analyzer does not lend itself to these small, low power consuming requirements. In this thesis, an initial attempt to miniaturize the hardware is described. A prototype impedance-based structural health monitoring system, incorporating wireless based communications, is fabricated and validated with experimental testing on a number of different structures. The first steps towards a complete self-contained, robust structural health monitoring sensor are presented.

structurual health monitoring, wireless SHM, impedance method, wave propagation, edge delamination, transverse matrix cracking