3D printed alkali-activated sensors for civil infrastructure

  • Christos Vlachakis

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Multifunctional cement-based materials have seen increasing interest in structural health monitoring due to their high sensing performance. While these materials typically involve the fabrication of large construction elements, smaller sensing patches can be deployed onto existing surfaces as an alternative means of monitoring. This thesis presents the development of 3D printed self-sensing alkali-activated material patches for monitoring the strain and temperature of concrete substrates. Changes in the inherent ionic conductivity of metakaolin-based alkali-activated material patches are used to demonstrate sensing and monitoring of infrastructure without the need to use electrically conductive fillers. The additive manufacturing, meanwhile, presents a convenient method of improving the repeatability and economic viability of deploying self-sensing materials in construction contexts. The work in this thesis includes first time demonstration of 3D printed alkali-activated sensors for temperature and strain monitoring and outlines the current state of the art on self-sensing alkali activated materials. The fabrication, development, automated deployment, and sensing performance in strain and temperature of these novel materials are investigated throughout this thesis and the final printing design requirements are compared to applications that use additive manufacturing to produce construction elements. By combining a monitoring and maintenance technology with an automated approach to deployment, the work carried out as part of this thesis addresses important barriers to the implementation of civil structural health monitoring & maintenance technologies. It is the author’s hope that the work outlined here eventually leads to an enhanced uptake of structural health monitoring by the construction sector. This will allow for prioritised maintenance of the ageing and degrading civil assets that currently underpin infrastructures across Europe and the US.
Date of Award23 Aug 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsUniversity of Strathclyde
SupervisorMarcus Perry (Supervisor) & Christine Switzer (Supervisor)

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