Development of sensor technology to facilitate in-situ measurement of damage in composite materials for spacecraft applications

Mowlem, Matthew C.; Chambers, Alan; Dakin, John P.. 2001 Development of sensor technology to facilitate in-situ measurement of damage in composite materials for spacecraft applications. In: Wilson, Alan R.; Asanuma, Hiroshi, (eds.) Smart Materials. Bellingham, USA, International Society for Optical Engineering, 144-151. (Proceedings of SPIE, 4234).

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Spacecraft inhabit an environment, which presents many hazards to their structural integrity and continued operation, and are intrinsically expensive to repair. Naturally-occurring micrometeoroids and debris from previous missions can both produce significant impact damage, particularly in advanced materials such as carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP). A sensor capable of recording impact events, and measuring the extent of the damage caused, would therefore be a useful tool in minimizing the risks and cost of spacecraft operation. This paper considers the use of multiplexed optical fiber Bragg grating based sensors for use in this application. It is envisaged that sensors should be used to optimize replacement schedules and prevent service failure. The interrogation systems have been developed as collaborative research between the Optoelectronics Research Centre and the Department of Engineering Materials at the University of Southampton, also involving a number of external collaborators (including ESA, and, in the UK, the following: DERA, Sensor Dynamics, NERC, and DTI). We utilize superluminescent erbium doped fibers as the light source and an acousto-optic-tuneable filter (AOTF) as the wavelength-selective element. Our latest developments in interrogation technology result in the creation of a high speed, high-resolution multiplexed sensor. This technology shows promise for assessing impact damage caused by low, high and hypervelocity impacts. The potential for counting and characterization of impinging particles from strain sensor readings (both transient and residual) is discussed.

Item Type: Publication - Book Section
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISBN: 0819439088
ISSN: 0277-786X
Date made live: 01 Mar 2007 +0 (UTC)

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