Development of wireless sensor node hardware for large-area capacitive strain monitoring
Conventional resistive-type strain sensing methods have limitations in large-area sensing due to their relatively small size. The soft elastomeric capacitive (SEC) sensor is a capacitance-based stretchable electronic strain sensor, which has shown distinct advantages for mesoscale sensing over conventional strain-based structural health monitoring (SHM) due to its wide surface coverage capability. While recent advances in wireless sensor technologies have provided an attractive alternative to wired and centralized SHM, the capacitive strain sensing methods have not benefitted from the wireless approaches due to the lack of appropriate hardware element. This study develops a wireless sensor board to use the SEC sensor in combination with a wireless sensor network for SHM by addressing key implementation challenges. An alternating current (AC)-based De-Sauty Wheatstone bridge circuit is employed, converting dynamic capacitance variation from the SEC sensor into analog voltage signal. A high-precision bridge balancer and two-step signal amplifiers are implemented to effectively apply for low-level structural strain vibrations. An amplitude modulation (AM)-demodulator has been designed to extract the baseband signal (i.e. strain signal) from the carrier signal (i.e. AC excitation for the Wheatstone bridge). And a dual-step shunt calibrator has been proposed to remove the parasitic capacitance effect of lead wires during on-board calibration process. The performances of the sensor board developed in this study have been validated via a series of lab tests, outperforming a conventional wired capacitance measurement system.
This is an author-created, un-copyedited version of an article accepted for publication/published in Smart Materials and Structures. IOP Publishing Ltd is not responsible for any errors or omissions in this version of the manuscript or any version derived from it. The Version of Record is available online at DOI: 10.1088/1361-665X/aaebc6. Posted with permission.