Damage detection in composite materials using PZT actuators and sensors for structural health monitoring
Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) of bridges, buildings, aircrafts, and spacecraft using a network of sensors has gained popularity over recent years. In this thesis, the use of piezoelectric actuators and sensors is described for detecting damage in a composite panel. The composite panels are fabricated using the Vacuum Assisted Resin Transfer Molding (VARTM) process. The panels are cut into small coupons (254 mm x 25.4 mm) to test various properties of the composite. A piezoelectric actuator is surface mounted on the composite coupon to generate Lamb waves while a surface mounted piezoelectric sensor measures the response. Data is collected from an undamaged composite coupon, and then the process is repeated for a damaged coupon. The existing damage is quantified by comparing the response of the damaged and undamaged composite coupons.