Publication details

Authors: Yi, Song; Adam, Hehr; Vesselin, Shanov; Noe, Alvarez; Nicholas, Kienzle; Joshua, Cummins; Dave, Koester; Mark, Schulz 
Title: Carbon nanotube sensor thread for distributed strain and damage monitoring on IM7/977-3 composites 
Type: Journal Article 
Publisher: Smart Materials and Structures 
Year: 2014 
Volume: 23 
Start Page: 075008 
End Page:  
Abstract: Laminated composite materials are used in applications where light weight is a key requirement. However, minor delamination damage in composites can propagate and lead to the failure of components. Failure occurs because delamination reduces the local bending stiffness and increases bending stress, which leads to the propagation of damage and eventual failure. These failures may be avoided if the damage could be detected early and repaired. Although many damage detection methods have been investigated, none are in widespread use today to prevent the failure of composites. This paper describes the use of carbon nanotube sensor thread to monitor strain and damage in composite materials. Sensor thread was bonded onto an IM7-laminated composite coupon to measure surface strain in a quasi-static uniaxial tensile test. The sensor thread was calibrated against a strain gage, which was also mounted to the coupon. The sensor thread measured the average strain over the length of the sample and indicated when the strain exceeded a nominal safe level. Sensor thread was also bonded to the surface of laminated composite panels in different patterns and detected, located and partially characterized the damage caused by multiple impacts to the panel. The new findings in this paper can be summarized as; (1) carbon nanotube sensor thread was tested as a distributed sensor for the first time on IM7/977-3 composites; (2) the sensor thread was found to monitor strain and detect damage in the composites with a potential sensitivity down to the micro-crack level; (3) the sensor thread was barely visible on the composite and did not add significant mass or affect the integrity of the composite; (4) the data acquisition system developed was simple and reliable.