The direct piezoelectric effect has long been recognized as an effective electromechanical coupling effect applied to designs of various transducers. Conventional sensor design usually follows three design principles: 1) the tension/compression design, 2) the bending or flexible design and 3) the shear design. These are mostly point-type transducers monitoring responses of discrete locations and, thus, they are not suitable to dynamic spatial monitoring of large-scale distributed structures, such as shells and plates. Accordingly, distributed designs and configurations, such as the segmentation and shaping techniques, have been proposed and evaluated in the last two decades. This study is to evaluate electromechanical coupling and signal generations of a coupled piezoelectric/elastic circular shell structure. A generic open-circuit signal equation of electromechanical coupling and signal generation is presented first, followed by a simplification to signal generation of a circular cylindrical shell case. The total signal generation and its contributing components are analyzed in the modal domain. Spatially distributed modal signals of various shell modes are calculated and the spatial signal distribution illustrates distinct modal characteristics resulting from microscopic modal strain behaviors. Thus, the optimal sensor location(s) for specific shell modes can be identified from the modal signal distribution plots.

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