Remote inspection system for impact damage in large composite structure

C. H. Zhong*, A. J. Croxford, P. D. Wilcox

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


A significant opportunity for reducing the weight of composite aircraft is through the development of an economically efficient method to detect barely visible or invisible impact damage sustained in service. In this paper, a structurally integrated, inert, wireless system for rapid, large-area impact damage detection in composite is demonstrated. Large-area inspection from single sensors using ultrasonic-guided waves is achieved with a baseline-subtraction technique. The wireless interface uses electromagnetic coupling between coils in the embedded sensor and inspection wand. Compact encapsulated sensor units are built and successfully embedded into composite panels at manufacture. Chirp-based excitation is used to enable single-shot measurements with high signal-to-random-noise ratio to be obtained. Signal processing to compensate for variability in inspection wand alignment is developed and shown to be necessary to obtain adequate baseline subtraction performance for damage detection. Results from sensors embedded in both glass fibre and carbon fibre-reinforced composite panels are presented. Successful detection of a 10 J impact damage in the former is demonstrated at a range of 125 mm. Quantitative extrapolation of this result suggests that the same level of impact damage would be detectable at a range of up to 1000 mm with an inspection wand alignment tolerance of 4 mm.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20140631
Number of pages16
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2173
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2015


  • wireless
  • embedded sensor
  • composites
  • non-destructive evaluation
  • RAIL


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