This paper presents the investigation of piezo-optical active sensing methodology for structural health monitoring (SHM). Piezoelectric wafer active sensors (PWAS) have emerged as one of the major structural health monitoring (SHM) technology; with the same installation of PWAS transducers, one can apply a variety of damage detection methods; propagating acousto-ultrasonic waves, standing waves (electromechanical impedance) and phased arrays. In recent years, fiber Bragg gratings (FBG) sensors have been investigated as an alternative to piezoelectric sensors for the detection of ultrasonic waves. FBG have the advantage of being durable, lightweight, and easily embeddable into composite structures as well as being immune to electromagnetic interference and optically multiplexed.
In this paper, the investigation focused on the interaction of PWAS and FBG sensors with structure, and combining multiple monitoring and interrogation methods (AE, pitch-catch, pulse-echo, phased-array, thickness mode, electromechanical impedance). The innovative piezo-optical active sensing system consists of both active and passive sensing. PWAS and FBG sensors are bonded to the surface of the structure, or are integrated into structure by manufacturing process. The optimum PWAS size and excitation frequency for energy transfer was determined. The FBG sensors parameters (size, spectrum, reflectivity, etc.) for ultrasonic guided waves sensing were also evaluated. We focused on the optimum FBG length and design to improve the sensitivity, coverage, and signal to noise ratio. In this research, we built the fundamental understanding of different sensors with optimum placement. Calibration and performance improvements for the optical interrogation system are also discussed. The paper ends with conclusions and suggestions for further work.