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Saturday, 20 July 2019
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Raw materials & technologies, Technologies

Sensing skin quickly detects cracks

Monday, 30 June 2014

A new technology was designed to serve as an early warning system for concrete structures.

The "sensing skin” detects cracks in concrete 
Source: djma - Fotolia.com

The "sensing skin” detects cracks in concrete
Source: djma - Fotolia.com

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of Eastern Finland have developed a "sensing skin” technology that detects cracks in concrete and reports when and where the damage took place, allowing authorities to respond quickly to damage in everything from nuclear facilities to bridges.

Extending the technology to large geometries

The skin is an electrically conductive coat of paint that can be applied to new or existing structures. The paint can incorporate any number of conductive materials, such as copper, making it relatively inexpensive. Electrodes are applied around the perimeter of a structure. The sensing skin is then painted onto the structure, over the electrodes. A computer program runs a small current between two of the electrodes at a time, cycling through a number of possible electrode combinations. Every time the current runs between two electrodes, a computer records the electrical potential at all of the electrodes on the structure. This data is then used to calculate the sensing skin’s spatially distributed electrical conductivity. If the skin’s conductivity decreases, that means the structure has cracked or been otherwise damaged. "Our next step is to extend this to large geometries,” a researcher says. "We want to show that this will work on real-world structures.”

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