This study investigates the influence of lay-up and load direction on embedded optical fiber Bragg gratings (FBGs) used as strain sensors. FBGs have shown great promise for application to structural health monitoring with advantages of small size and cylindrical geometry readily allowing for embedment within fiber reinforced composites. Characterization of the embedded FBGs is necessary to develop a rugged and reliable strain sensor. This paper specifically explores the effects of loading direction on the FBG strain outputs. A well behaved baseline case is established with results for gratings loaded parallel to the optical fiber direction while embedded parallel to the adjacent structural fibers in a quasi-isotropic composite. Results and analysis are also presented for a case involving a composite fabricated with the optical and structural fibers parallel to each other but perpendicular to the loading direction. Extremely good results are obtained relating FBG strain measurements with that of surface mounted resistance strain gauges.

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