This paper describes a proof-of-concept non-contact strain sensor, using a magnetostrictive Fe-Ga alloy (Galfenol). Magnetostrictive materials demonstrate dimensional changes in response to a magnetic field. In contrast with typical piezoceramic materials, Galfenol is the most ductile of the current transduction materials and appears to have an excellent ability to withstand mechanical shock and tension. Galfenol also exhibits the inverse (Villari) effect: both the magnetization and permeability change in response to an applied stress. Galfenol has low hysteresis loses, less than ∼10% of its transduction potential over a range of −20 to +80 °C. The magnetization’s response to stress depends strongly on both magnetic field bias and alloy composition. Galfenol’s Villari effect can be used in various sensor configurations together with either a giant magnetoresistance (GMR) sensor, Hall Effect sensor or pickup coil to sense the magnetization / permeability changes in Galfenol when stressed. The sensor described in this paper utilizes the permeability change, which is not time dependent and can measure static loads. The design reported here targets low force, low frequency applications, such as inclination measurements and stress monitoring. The sensor was able to measure both static and dynamic stress. The static sensitivity was +3.64 Oe/kN for the Hall sensor close to the bias magnet and −1.49 Oe/kN for the Hall sensor at the other end of the Galfenol strip. We conclude that a Galfenol strain sensor is a viable candidate for bolt stress monitoring in critical applications.

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