Condition evaluation of large-scale structures, termed mesoscale structures (e.g. civil, aerospace, and energy structures) is difficult due to their large size and complex geometries. Additionally, there exists a lack of economic and scalable sensing technologies that are capable of detecting, localizing, and quantifying local faults over a structures global area. A solution to this local-global problem is the deployment of an inexpensive dense sensor network that is capable of detecting and localizing damage over a structure’s global area. This work will present advancements in two such dense sensor networks. The first consists of a sensing skin developed from a flexible capacitor that is mounted externally onto the structure. When deployed in a dense sensor network configuration, these large area sensors are capable of covering large surfaces at low cost and can monitor both strain- and crack-induced damages. The second sensing technology consists of smart-cementitious material doped with multi-wall carbon nanotubes, which has been demonstrated to be suitable for monitoring its own deformations (strain) and damage state (cracks). Integrated into a structure, this smart cementitious material can be used for detecting damage or strain through the monitoring of its electrical properties.
Austin Downey is an Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. His research focuses on increasing the resiliency of mesoscale structures to both manmade and natural events through the real-time monitoring, modeling, and adaptive control of structures. He has authored over 20 journal papers related to his research and is the lead inventor on two U.S. patent. He obtained his Ph.D. from Iowa State University in 2018 in Engineering Mechanics and Wind Energy Science, Engineering, and Policy where he was an NSF-IGERT fellow.
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