Building artificial nerves for smart structures and for structural health monitoring is discussed. Structural Health Monitoring refers to using in-situ sensors to monitor the strains and strain waves and from these interpret the health of a structure in real-time. This will allow a structure to be operated at its maximum performance and efficiency while minimizing fatigue and other damage. To achieve this capability on a large structure, artificial nerves are used to mimic the biological nervous system. Two design concepts for nerve fibers are considered; piezoceramic active fibers and carbon nanotube conductive fibers. The piezoceramic fibers are self-powered and can sense acoustic emissions and dynamic strains due to damage. The carbon nanotube fibers change conductance when strained and can sense high strain due to damage. The processes being developed to fabricate the two types of nerves are discussed and some initial experimental results are presented.

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