The objective of this paper is to develop in-situ structural health monitoring in polymer matrix composites using embedded bucky paper. Bucky paper based sandwich composites has been used for damage and load sensing in aerospace and defense applications due to high electrical conductivity, low density, and outstanding load sensitivity. Recent research focuses on improving mechanical, electrical, thermal properties of certain composites with improved gauge factor for sensing applications. To better understand certainly quantity strain change effects, it is essential to design composite materials and sensors for in-situ and embedded strain monitoring in composites using piezoresistance feedback.
In this paper nanocomposite bucky papers are manufactured to monitor the load and damage condition in fiber reinforced polymer matrix composites. We first investigated the fabrication of bucky papers using different nanomaterials. Then the micro-scale morphology and structures are characterized using a scanning electron microscopy. The sensing function is achieved by correlating the piezoresistance variations to the stress or strain applied on the sensing area. Due to the conductive network formed and the tunneling resistance change in neighboring nanoparticles, the electrical resistance is able to show a good correlation with the load conditions. The prepared bucky papers are embedded in composites and the sensing capability is experimentally characterized under three-point bending experiments. The characterized membrane structures have the potential to be further applied to in-situ structural health monitoring and structural state awareness during their entire service lives.