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Integrated Hybrid Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) System



TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Air Platform, Electronics, Sensors


OBJECTIVE: Develop an integrated, low-weight, hybrid Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) system that effectively utilizes fiber optic (FO) sensors and piezoelectric (PZT) actuators to capture damage data and corresponding structural response.

DESCRIPTION: Effective SHM systems must possess the ability to detect and track structural damage as well as monitor the actual environment and loading conditions the structure experiences. Two types of information are needed in order to accurately predict structural integrity: damage data and structural response. Current SHM systems utilize PZT actuators and FO sensors separately. PZT transducers are used to detect and track actual damage while FO sensors monitor loads and environmental parameters. Issues with current SHM systems utilizing PZTs include difficulties with cross communication between sensors and signal attenuation during long distance transmission. A hybrid system can avoid sensor cross communication by using different mechanisms for signal transmission. A hybrid diagnostic system that can capture damage and loads data by using PZT actuators to input controlled structural excitation and FO sensors to measure the corresponding structural response is sought.

An integrated systems approach is needed to develop a hybrid SHM system consisting of a hybrid sensor network, connectors, and data acquisition hardware/software integrated into a single unit that will take advantage of any commonality in electronic components. The FO and PZT sensors should be configured for placement onto the structure without structural degradation. The hybrid system will be evaluated on its damage detection, damage quantification, and static/dynamic loads monitoring capabilities. Emphasis will be placed on demonstration and integration of the SHM system on representative US Navy structural components in real world loading environments. The hardware and software for data acquisition and processing should be packaged as a single unit and must be as small and lightweight as possible. Integration with the current V-22 Vibration/Structural Life and Engine Diagnostics (VSLED) system is desired.

PHASE I: Develop and concept for, and demonstrate the technical feasibility of, an integrated hybrid SHM system that utilizes a FO/PZT sensor network to monitor loads and detect damage on structural components for the V-22 platform.

PHASE II: Develop a prototype of the complete hybrid SHM system and demonstrate the system's structural monitoring capabilities on a representative V-22 structural component/s.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Transition the integrated hybrid SHM system for implementation onto the V-22 platform, ensuring interoperability with the VSLED system. Transition will include ground and flight testing. Transition the developed SHM system to commercial aircraft industry. Private Sector Commercial Potential: Similar to Navy aircraft, commercial aircraft would benefit from a hybrid SHM system that accurately tracks aircraft use and damage data for structural components throughout the component’s life. More precise fatigue/damage tracking can lead to reduced maintenance downtime and cost due to targeted, less frequent inspections and part replacement.


  • Wu, Z., Qing, X. P., & Chang, F. K. (2009). Damage detection for composite laminate plates with a distributed hybrid PZT/FBG sensor network. Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures. Retrieved from
  • Sun, Z., Rocha, B., Wu, K. T., & Mrad, N. (2013). A Methodological review of piezoelectric based acoustic wave generation and detection techniques for structural health monitoring. International Journal of Aerospace Engineering, 2013. Retrieved from
  • Su, Z., Zhou, C., Hong, M., Cheng, L., Wang, Q., & Qing, X. (2014). Acousto-ultrasonics-based fatigue damage characterization: Linear versus nonlinear signal features. Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing, 45(1), 225-239. Retrieved from

KEYWORDS: Damage Detection; Load Monitoring; Maintenance Reduction; Structural Health Monitoring; Fiber Optic; Piezoelectric

TPOC-1: 301-757-2031

TPOC-2: 301-757-1314

TPOC-3: 301-342-8396

Questions may also be submitted through DoD SBIR/STTR SITIS website.

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