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31 May 1999 Distributed optical-fiber-based damage detection in composites
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Composite materials are vulnerable to damage, and this can result in conservatism in design and increased maintenance costs. One way of reducing these costs is by integrating a system into the composite material which can sense the damage condition and provide an assessment of its size, location and significance. This is a difficult task, and one of the main challenges is to develop sensor systems that can detect damage reliably while not compromising the material properties of the composite or significantly increasing its weight. A sensor system will be described which fulfills some of these requirements. It is based on the use of a highly birefringent optical fiber. The whole length of the fiber is used as the sensor, which minimizes additional weight. It also enables information to be obtained on the position of the damage along its length. The mechanical properties of the composite material are not degraded when the fiber is embedded, as long as some simple precautions are taken. The sensor utilizes the propagation of low coherence polarized light in highly birefringent optical fiber. Light is launched into one of the polarization states of the fiber and is coupled into the orthogonal state in the presence of damage. The sensor is interrogated interferometrically. Its operation will be described in detail and results will be presented which illustrate its perforce in detecting impact induced damage in a number of different composite material systems. Benefits of the system will be described together with areas which need further development.
© (1999) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Ian P. Giles, Michael Mondanos, Rodney Alan Badcock, and Peter A. Lloyd "Distributed optical-fiber-based damage detection in composites", Proc. SPIE 3670, Smart Structures and Materials 1999: Sensory Phenomena and Measurement Instrumentation for Smart Structures and Materials, (31 May 1999);

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