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Method for Real-Time Health Monitoring of Large Polymer Composite Structures Using Carbon Nanotube Networks



In this paper, a novel and practical method has been developed for real-time detecting, locating and quantifying damages that occur at one or several locations in large polymer composites structures (LPCSs) using carbon nanotube networks. In this real-time structural health monitoring (SHM) method, multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) were embedded into the epoxy resin to form networks of multifunctional in-situ sensors. This modified epoxy resin was then infiltrated with long kevlar fibers to make kevlar fibers/epoxy/MWCNTs composite plates. A grid of points made of electrically conductive silver paint was mounted on the surface of the plate. The electrical resistances between the grid points were measured and used as a reference set. Drilled holes and impact testing were performed to simulate damages. The experimental results show that the significant changes in electrical resistance across the grid points correspond exactly to the damages that occur in the large plate. As such, this new method can provide strong potential to detect, locate and quantify damages in LPCSs made of electrically non-conductive fibers and CNT networks.

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