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Research and Development (R&D) Project Sites

Project Information
Project ID:   FHWA-PROJ-10-0014
Project Name:   Nanoscale Sensors for Structural Health
Project Status:   Completed
Start Date:  March 4, 2010
End Date:  March 4, 2013
Contact Information
Last Name:  Ghasemi
First Name:  Hamid
Telephone:  202-493-3042
E-mail:  hamid.ghasemi@dot.gov
Office:   Office of Infrastructure Research and Development
Team:   Infrastructure Management Team [HRDI-60]
Program:   Exploratory Advanced Research
Project detail
Roadmap/Focus area(s):   Infrastructure Research and Technology Strategic Plan and Roadmap
Project Description:   This project will investigate self-powered, very large-area wireless sensors for the real-time monitoring of potentially dangerous cracks in steel bridges. The sensing elements are made by inkjet printing nanoparticles onto flexible organic substrates. Carbon nanotube-based materials will be explored for scavenging solar and vibrational energy to power the sensor nodes. Multiscale wireless communication approaches are proposed for convenient access to the sensor data over the Internet.
The key project objectives are:
(1) Strain and crack monitoring using a single wireless nanosensor. Testing must detect a 1-mm crack and a strain measurement of 10,000 µe with a resolution of 10 µe.
(2) Strain and crack monitoring using wireless nanosensor arrays. Must maintain same measurement criteria for a single nanosensor on an array up to 100 sensors while being read from a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) 15 m away.
(3) Carbon nanotube-based energy harvesting for the wireless nanosensors. The sensor array must be capable of providing measurement at any time of day.
(4) Testing specimens with more complex geometries. Must achieve same success criteria as shown for simple specimens.
(5) Field Validation. Minimum continuous operation time in the field of three months.
Background Information:   Project submitted in response to a fiscal year 2007 Exploratory Advanced Research Program solicitation.
More Information URL(s):  
  1. http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/advancedresearch/pubs/13057/13057.pdf
Field Test:   The team will field validate the sensors with the requirement that the same testing criteria be met in the field for three months.
Product Type:   Hardware
Research report
Test Methodology:   Progressively develop the sensor by first demonstrating the capability of a single sensor on a known crack and then moving on to a sensor array capable of determining unknown crack properties and introducing energy harvesting nanotubes. All early work will be performed in the laboratory before moving to the field for final testing.
Expected Benefits:   Self-powering sensors, nanosensors for crack detection, remote access to nanosensors.
Deliverables: 1. Name: Report.
Product Type(s): Research report
Description: The deliverable is a report summarizing the approach and findings of the research.
2. Name: Crack Monitoring Nanosensor
Product Type(s): Research report, Hardware
Description: This will be a millimeter wave antenna system that can be placed directly on the surface of a structure in an array format allowing full coverage of the structure for crack detection determined by a frequency shift.
3. Name: Nanotube power scavenger.
Product Type(s): Research report, Hardware
Description: A power scavenger system will be developed using nanotube solar cells or similar scavenger technology that can be printed directly onto the sensor using an inkjet printer. This will provide power to the sensor, making it completely self powered.
FHWA Topics:   Roads and Bridges--Structures
TRT Terms:   Safety and Security
Transportation Safety
Steel Bridges
FHWA Disciplines:   Structures
Subject Areas:   Bridges and other structures
Maintenance and Preservation


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