High-temperature polymer-matrix composites (PMCs) are necessary and critical for the development of supersonic aircraft and orbital re-entry vehicles because of the need for light-weight design, high strength-to-weight ratios and high thermal stability in structures. Damage detection is a primary concern in composite structures because they are prone to multiple damage forms that can be hidden within the structure. Damage can include matrix cracking, fiber breakage, and delamination which can be caused by impacts, fatigue, or overloading. To overcome these shortfalls highly damage tolerant structures are employed to improve the safety of structures. Unfortunately this requires additional, potentially unnecessary, structural weight which is detrimental to aerospace structures. Acoustic ultrasound based structural health monitoring (SHM) has demonstrated the ability to overcome these problems by using arrays of Lead Zirconate Titanate piezoelectric transducers typically mounted on a flex circuit all of which is permanently affixed to, or embedded within, a structure [1] [2] [3] [4]. These transducers can excite and detect ultrasonic wave propagation in the structure and diagnostic algorithms, interpreting the signals, have been developed enabling real time inspection for damage. However, modern SHM systems are not capable of surviving the high temperatures experienced in the fabrication and service of High-temperature polymer matrix composites. In particular the Lead Zirconate Titanate piezoelectric elements typically depolarize and lose their functionality at around 200°C [5] [6]. Additionally, current SHM diagnostic algorithms are dependent on baseline data to compare signals to. These signals change with temperature and even just a few degree change can be detrimental to the system’s abilities. The current method for enabling functionality over a range of temperatures is to take numerous sets of baseline data at very high resolution across a range of temperatures. In order to adapt SHM for high temperature composites new piezoelectric materials must be developed capable of surviving elevated fabrication and operational temperatures. Small scale network components must be integrated to reduce detrimental effects of embedding SHM systems within the composite layup [7] [8] [9]. Additionally, methods for reducing the number of baseline data sets in the diagnostic algorithms must be developed. This paper presents development and testing of Bismuth Scandium Lead Titanate piezo ceramic transducers for high temperature SHM. These transducers are incorporated into a stretchable network system and mounted on a glass backing. Functionality is tested using a commercially available data acquisition system designed for SHM and intended for use with PZT transducers. Ongoing development of temperature compensation algorithms is also presented herein.

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