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    Charles Farrar
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    Michael Todd
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    Jutta Kayser
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Sensing for Structural Health Monitoring

Instrumentation and data acquisition issues are major concerns that must be addressed when developing structural health monitoring and damage prognosis systems.  At LANL, piezoelectric active materials are widely used in order to detect damage at the earliest possible time while assessing the impact of this damage on the system level performance.  We are also investigating the challenging issues of making such sensing systems robust and reliable for deployment on real-world structures and coupling the sensing hardware directly with data interrogation software.

What is Active Sensing?

Piezoelectric materials, such as Lead Zirconate Titanate (PZT), are used for simultaneous actuation and sensing needed for the local damage identification.  PZT materials have the ability to couple between electrical and mechanical domains. These materials produce electric charges when stressed mechanically, and mechanical strains in response to an applied electric field. This coupling property has let researchers develop and deploy active, local sensing systems whereby a structure is locally excited by a known and repeatable input, and the corresponding structural response is measured by the same excitation source. These sensor/actuators are inexpensive, generally require low power, and are non-intrusive.

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