Embedding Fiber Bragg Grating Sensors in Carbon Composite Structures for Accurate Strain Measurement

Massimiliano Gabardi, Lorenzo Tozzetti, Stefano Faralli, Massimiliano Solazzi, David Benedetti, Samina Rajbhandari, Gianni Buttaro, Fabrizio Di Pasquale

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Fiber Bragg grating (FBG) sensors written by femtosecond laser pulses in polyamide-coated low bending loss optical fibers are successfully embedded in carbon composite structures, following laminating and light resin molding processes which optimize the size of each ply to address esthetic, drapability, and structural requirements of the final components. The sensors are interrogated by a tunable laser operating at around $1.55 ~\mu \text{m}$ , and their response to temperature and strain variations is characterized in a thermally controlled chamber and by bending tests using suspended calibrated loads and a laser scanning system. Experimental results are in good agreement with simulations, confirming that the embedding process effectively overcomes potential issues related to FBG spectral distortion, birefringence, and losses. In particular, the effects of the composite material nonhomogeneity and FBG birefringence are investigated to evaluate their impact on the monitoring capabilities. A bimaterial mechanical beam model is proposed to characterize the orthotropic laminates, pointing out better accuracy in estimating the applied load with respect to the classical homogeneous beam model. A comparative analysis, performed on different instrumented carbon composite samples and supported by theory, points out the repeatability of the FBG sensors’ embedding process and the effectiveness of the technology for real-time accurate strain measurement. Based on such measurements, damages and/or changes in local stiffness can be effectively detected, allowing for structural health monitoring (SHM) of composite structures for applications in specific industrial fields such as automotive and aerospace.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10158510
JournalIEEE Sensors Journal
Issue number15
Pages (from-to)16882-16892
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023


  • Sensors
  • Fiber gratings
  • Optical fiber sensors
  • Optical fibers
  • Carbon
  • Strain
  • Temperature sensors


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