Conductivity-based strain monitoring and damage characterization of fiber reinforced cementitious structural components

Tsung Chin Hou, Jerome P. Lynch

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

97 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years, a new class of cementitious composite has been proposed for the design and construction of durable civil structures. Termed engineered cementitious composites (ECC), ECC utilizes a low volume fraction of short fibers (polymer, steel, carbon) within a cementitious matrix resulting in a composite that strain hardens when loaded in tension. By refining the mechanical properties of the fiber-cement interface, the material exhibits high tolerance to damage. This study explores the electrical properties of ECC materials to monitor their performance and health when employed in the construction of civil structures. In particular, the conductivity of ECC changes in proportion to strain indicating that the material is piezoresistive. In this paper, the piezoresistive properties of various ECC composites are thoroughly explored. To measure the electrical resistance of ECC structures in the field, a low-cost wireless active sensing unit is proposed. The wireless active sensing unit is capable of applying DC and AC voltage signals to ECC elements while simultaneously measuring their corresponding voltages away from the signal input. By locally processing the corresponding input-output electrical signals recorded by the wireless active sensing units, the magnitude of strain in ECC elements can be calculated. In addition to measuring strain, the study seeks to correlate changes in ECC electrical properties to the magnitude of crack damage witnessed in tested specimens. A large number of ECC specimens are tested in the laboratory including a large-scale ECC bridge pier laterally loaded under cyclically repeated drift reversals. The novel self-sensing properties of ECC exploited by a wireless monitoring system hold tremendous promise for the advancement of structural health monitoring of ECC structures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number44
Pages (from-to)419-429
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Issue numberPART 1
Publication statusPublished - 2005
EventSmart Structures and Materials 2005 - Sensors and Smart Structures Technologies for Civil, Mechanical, and Aerospace Systems - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: 2005 Mar 72005 Mar 10

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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