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Proceedings Paper

Wireless microsensors for health monitoring of aircraft structures
Author(s): Vijay K. Varadan
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Paper Abstract

The integration of MEMS, IDTs (interdigital transducers) and required microelectronics and conformal antennas to realize programmable, robust and low cost passive microsensors suitable for many military structures and systems including aircraft, missiles and munitions is presented in this paper. The technology is currently being applied to the structural health monitoring of critical aircraft components. The approach integrates acoustic emission, strain gauges, MEMS accelerometers, gyroscopes and vibration monitoring devices with signal processing electronics to provide real-time indicators of incipient failure of aircraft components with a known history of catastrophic failure due to fracture. Recently a combination of the need for safety in the air and the desire to control costs is encouraging the use of in-flight monitoring of aircraft components and systems using light-weight, wireless and cost effective microsensors and MEMS. An in-situ Aircraft structural health monitoring (ASHM) system, with sensors embedded in the composite structure or surface-mounted on the structure, would permit the timely detection of damage in aircraft. Micromachining offers the potential for fabricating a range of microsensors and MEMS for structural applications including load, vibration and acoustics characterization and monitoring. Such microsensors are extremely small; they can be embedded into structural materials, can be mass-produced and are therefore potentially cheap. Additionally a range of sensor types can be integrated onto a single chip with built-in electronics and ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit), providing a low power Microsystems. The smart sensors are being developed using the standard microelectronics and micromachining in conjunction with novel Penn State smart electronics or wireless communication systems suitable for condition monitoring of aircraft structures in-flight. A hybrid accelerometer and gyroscope in a single chip suitable for inertial navigation system and other microsensors for health monitoring and condition-based maintenance of structures, drag sensing and control of aircraft, strain and deflection of structures and systems, ice sensing on aircraft, remote temperature and humidity measurement of propellant in munitions, chemical sensing, etc. are discussed.

Paper Details

Date Published: 16 January 2003
PDF: 14 pages
Proc. SPIE 4981, MEMS Components and Applications for Industry, Automobiles, Aerospace, and Communication II, (16 January 2003); doi: 10.1117/12.479561
Show Author Affiliations
Vijay K. Varadan, The Pennsylvania State Univ. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4981:
MEMS Components and Applications for Industry, Automobiles, Aerospace, and Communication II
Siegfried W. Janson, Editor(s)

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