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Shock and Vibration
Volume 12, Issue 6, Pages 389-405

Integrated Structural Health Assessment Using Piezoelectric Active Sensors

Jeannette R. Wait, Gyuhae Park, and Charles R. Farrar

Engineering Sciences & Applications, Weapon Response Group, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87545, USA

Received 22 October 2004; Revised 6 April 2005

Copyright © 2005 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper illustrates an integrated approach for identifying structural damage. The method presented utilizes piezoelectric (PZT) materials to actuate/sense the dynamic response of the structures. Two damage identification techniques are integrated in this study, including impedance methods and Lamb wave propagations. The impedance method monitors the variations in structural mechanical impedance, which is coupled with the electrical impedance of the PZT patch. In Lamb wave propagations, one PZT patch acting as an actuator launches an elastic wave through the structure, and responses are measured by an array of PZT sensors. The changes in both wave attenuation and reflection are used to detect and locate the damage. Both the Lamb wave and impedance methods operate in high frequency ranges at which there are measurable changes in structural responses even for incipient damage such as small cracks, debonding, or loose connections. The combination of the local impedance method with the wave propagation based approach allows a better characterization of the system’s structural integrity. The paper concludes with experimental results to demonstrate the feasibility of this integrated active sensing technology.