Acoustic emission detection using optical fibre sensors for aerospace applications

  • Raja Pappu

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) ensures the structural health and safety of critical structures covering a wide range of application areas. This thesis presents novel, low-cost and good-performance fibre Bragg grating (FBG) based systems for detection of Acoustic Emission (AE) in aircraft structures, which is a part of SHM. Importantly a key aim, during the design of these systems, was to produce systems that were sufficiently small to install in an aircraft for lifetime monitoring. Two important techniques for monitoring high frequency AE that were developed as a part of this research were, Quadrature recombination technique and Active tracking technique. Active tracking technique was used extensively and was further developed to overcome the limitations that were observed while testing it at several test facilities and with different optical fibre sensors. This system was able to eliminate any low frequency spectrum shift due to environmental perturbation and keeps the sensor always working at optimum operation point. This is highly desirable in harsh industrial and operationally active environments. Experimental work carried out in the laboratory has proved that such systems can be used for high frequency detection and have capability to detect up to 600 kHz. However, the range of frequency depends upon the requirement and design of the interrogation system as the system can be altered accordingly for different applications. Several optical fibre configurations for wavelength detection were designed during the course of this work along with industrial partners. Fibre Bragg grating Fabry-Perot (FBG-FP) sensors have shown higher sensitivity and usability than the uniform FBGs to be used with such system. This was shown experimentally. The author is certain that further research will lead to development of a commercially marketable product and the use of active tracking systems can be extended in areas of healthcare, civil infrastructure monitoring etc. where it can be deployed. Finally, the AE detection system has been developed to aerospace requirements and was tested at NDT & Testing Technology test facility based at Airbus, Filton, UK on A350 testing panels.
    Date of Award31 May 2012
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorKate Sugden (Supervisor)


    • optical fibre sensing
    • structural health monitoring
    • acoustic emission detection

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