Integrated sensing networks in composite materials
Increasingly, the demand to monitor structures in service is driving technology in new directions. Advances in many areas including novel sensor technologies afford new opportunities in structural health monitoring. We present efforts to develop structural composite materials which include networks of embedded sensors with decision-making capabilities that extend the functionality of the composite materials to be information-aware. The next generation of structural systems will include the capability to acquire, process, and if necessary respond to structural or other types of information. This work brings together many important developments over the last few years in several areas: developments in composites and the emergence of multifunctional composites, the emergence of a broad range of new sensors, smaller and lower power microelectronics with increased and multiple integrated functionality, and the emergence of algorithms that extract important structural health information from large data sets. This work seeks to leverage these individual advances by solving the challenges needed to integrate these into an information-aware composite structure. We present details of efforts to integrate and entrap connectorized microelectronic components within fiber/conductor braided bundles to minimize their impact as composite crack initiation centers. The bundles include conductors to transmit electric signals for power and communications. They are suitable for inclusion in woven composite fabrics or directly in the composite lay-up. The low-power electronic devices can operate on a multi-drop and point-to-point networks. Future directions include implementing in-network local processing, adding a greater range of sensors, and developing the composite processing techniques that allow sensor network integration.
Starr, AF; Nemat-Nasser, S; Smith, DR; Plaisted, TA
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