About the research
This project extends the research and development of a novel sensing technology previously investigated in the pooled fund initiative TPF-5(328). The technology is a soft elastomeric capacitor (SEC) developed at Iowa State University. It is a geometrically large strain gauge, and its measurement principle is based on transducing changes in strain into measurable changes in capacitance. Arranged in a network configuration, it can monitor strain over a large area at a given resolution. The SEC technology is inexpensive and easy to deploy, therefore highly scalable. It follows that the technology can be used to discover new fatigue cracks, and track and quantify damage, an important challenge to numerous state departments of transportation. The overarching objective of project is to enable large-scale deployments in the United States by addressing further essential development needs uncovered during the previous research to achieve more robust, accurate, and flexible crack monitoring using the wireless skin sensor network. In particular, within this three-year research phase (Phase 1), the research team will 1) refine the design of the SEC for robust long-term field deployment; 2) provide the technology with improved wireless and augmented sensing capabilities; 3) refine a crack detection algorithm that accommodates more diverse structural configurations and can be directly used by engineers for decision making; 4) further damage quantification capabilities for complex geometries and composite materials; and 5) validate and demonstrate the improved version of the wireless crack sensing technology on a bridge in the fields through long-term deployments.