Concrete structures undergo an uncontrollable damage process manifesting in the form of cracks due to the coupling of fatigue loading and environmental effects. In order to achieve long-term durability and performance, continuous health monitoring systems are needed to make critical decisions regarding operation, maintenance and repairs. Recent advances in nanostructured materials such as carbon nanotubes have opened the door for new smart and advanced sensing materials that could effectively be used in health monitoring of structures where wireless and real time sensing could provide information on damage development. In this paper, carbon nanotube networks were embedded into a cement matrix to develop an in situ wireless and embedded sensor for damage detection in concrete structures. By wirelessly measuring the change in the electrical resistance of the carbon nanotube networks, the progress of damage can be detected and monitored. As a proof of concept, wireless cement–carbon nanotube sensors were embedded into concrete beams and subjected to monotonic and cyclic loading to evaluate the effect of damage on their response. Experimental results showed that the wireless response of the embedded nanotube sensors changes due to the formation of cracks during loading. In addition, the nanotube sensors were able to detect the initiation of damage at an early stage of loading.
- damage detection
- remote sensing