Here we describe the synthesis and testing of miniature sensors for structural health monitoring. The sensors were incorporated into building materials to detect strain relaxation events within the region of elastic deformation prior to the onset of plastic deformation. Our sensors consisted of thin composite films of polydimethylsiloxane and graphite nanoparticles that conduct via tunnelling percolation. Tunnelling-percolation through elastomers with low Young's modulus is highly sensitive to deformation and gives a large piezoresistance which we use to infer the local strain. The response of sensors embedded in calcium aluminate mortar, Portland cement mortar, and very fine sand columns was compared under stress. We show that the sensors can detect micro-events where strain is redistributed locally from one direction to another and may thus be used to monitor structural integrity and provide early warning of material disaggregation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113139
JournalSensors and Actuators A-Physical
Issue number113139
Early online date25 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work has been supported by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation International Consortium of Nanotechnologies (UK). We thank William Bazeley, Dr. Taylor-Harrod, Dr. Efi Tzoura, Dr. Hussameldin Taha Abdalgadir, Dr. Barrie Dams and Prof. Tim Ibell for helpful discussions. We also acknowledge support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (UK) under grant number No. EP/P02081X/1 , Resilient Materials 4 Life, RM4L.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


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