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Smart Structures and Systems
  Volume 6, Number 5, July-August 2010, pages 731-748

Concrete structural health monitoring using piezoceramic-based wireless sensor networks
Peng Li, Haichang Gu, Gangbing Song, Rong Zheng and YL Mo

    Impact detection and health monitoring are very important tasks for civil infrastructures, such as bridges. Piezoceramic based transducers are widely researched for these tasks due to the piezoceramic material inherent advantages of dual sensing and actuation ability, which enables the active sensing method for structural health monitoring with a network of piezoceramic transducers. Wireless sensor networks, which are easy for deployment, have great potential in health monitoring systems for large civil infrastructures to identify early-age damages. However, most commercial wireless sensor networks are general purpose and may not be optimized for a network of piezoceramic based transducers. Wireless networks of piezoceramic transducers for active sensing have special requirements, such as relatively high sampling rate (at a few-thousand Hz), incorporation of an amplifier for the piezoceramic element for actuation, and low energy consumption for actuation. In this paper, a wireless network is specially designed for piezoceramic transducers to implement impact detection and active sensing for structural health monitoring. A power efficient embedded system is designed to form the wireless sensor network that is capable of high sampling rate. A 32 bit RISC wireless microcontroller is chosen as the main processor. Detailed design of the hardware system and software system of the wireless sensor network is presented in this paper. To verify the functionality of the wireless sensor network, it is deployed on a two-story concrete frame with embedded piezoceramic transducers, and the active sensing property of piezoceramic material is used to detect the damage in the structure. Experimental results show that the wireless sensor network can effectively implement active sensing and impact detection with high sampling rate while maintaining low power consumption by performing offline data processing and minimizing wireless communication.
Key Words
    wireless sensor network; impact detection; structural health monitoring; embedded system; piezoceramic sensor.
Peng Li, Haichang Gu and Gangbing Song; Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Houston, USA
Rong Zheng; Department of Computer Science, University of Houston, USA
YL Mo; Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Houston, USA

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