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Advances of Bio-inspired In-situ Triboluminescent Optical Fiber Sensor for Damage and Load Monitoring in Multifunctional Composite



The proprietary bio-inspired in-situ triboluminescent optical fiber (ITOF) sensor was developed by researchers at the High-Performance Materials Institute. The sensor has capability for in-situ, distributed and real time damage monitoring in large civil and aerospace structures. Unlike other sensors, the ITOF sensor does not require external light source or power for sensing damage and transmitting the signal. The ITOF sensor consists of polymer optical fiber and triboluminescent (TL) composite coating of manganese-doped zinc sulfide (ZnS:Mn), the material with the highest TL emission capability among all inorganic crystals. The optical fiber is consistently coated with the triboluminescent composite by a continuous dip coating process. Over the years, researchers have utilized ITOF sensors for damage monitoring in composites and concrete structures. The sensor can successfully detect damage such as delamination, crack, adhesive bond failure, and barely visible impact damage (BVID) in composites. A new sensor, ITOFPress, consisting of ITOF sensor, is being developed to provide real-time quasi-distributed load information on wind turbine composites blades. These works utilized ITOF sensor of diameter ranges 1450 ~ 1600 μm. For the first time, a smaller diameter ITOF sensor of 570 μm was embedded into the carbon fiber composites and tested under flexural loading for damage monitoring. The results showed that small-sized ITOF sensors can detect shear failure of the flexural beams. The successful fabrication and integration of smaller ITOF sensors into the composites reduce the possibility of the sensor having a negative impact on the properties of the host material.


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