From the Georgia Tech Newsroom - -
Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are developing a novel
technology that would facilitate close monitoring of structures for strain,
stress and early formation of cracks. Their approach uses wireless sensors that
are low cost, require no power, can be implemented on tough yet flexible polymer
substrates, and can identify structural problems at a very early stage. The only
electronic component in the sensor is an inexpensive radio-frequency
identification (RFID) chip.
Moreover, these sensor designs can be inkjet-printed on various substrates,
using methods that optimize them for operation at radio frequency. The result
would be low-cost, weather-resistant devices that could be affixed by the
thousands to various kinds of structures.
"For many engineering structures, one of the most dangerous problems is the
initiation of stress concentration and cracking, which is caused by overloading
or inadequate design and can lead to collapse – as in the case of the I-35W
bridge failure in Minneapolis in 2007," said Yang Wang, an assistant professor
in the Georgia Tech School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. "Placing a
'smart skin' of sensors on structural members, especially on certain high-stress
hot spots that have been pinpointed by structural analysis, could provide early
notification of potential trouble."