Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have a unique set of properties that may be useful in the production of next generation structural health monitoring composites. This research introduces a novel CNT based material system for strain and damage sensing applications. An aligned sheet of interconnected CNTs was drawn from a chemical vapor deposition grown CNT array and then bonded to the surface of glass fiber/epoxy composite coupons. Various types of mechanical tests were conducted, accompanied by real-time electrical data acquisition, in order to evaluate the electro-mechanical behavior of the developed sensing material. Specimens were loaded in the longitudinal and transverse CNT sheet orientations to investigate the anisotropy of the piezoresistive effect. The CNT sheets exhibited good sensing stability, linearity, sensitivity and repeatability within a practical strain range; which are crucial sensor features for health monitoring. It was also demonstrated that the CNT orientation in the sheet had a dramatic effect on the sensitivity, thus validating the usefulness of this sensing material for directional strain/
damage monitoring. Finally, pre-straining of the CNT sheet sensors was conducted to further enhance the linearity of electro-mechanical response and long-term stability of the sensors during cyclic loading. Read the full paper here.