Connaught New Researcher awards support innovation in smart bridge decks

Fae Azhari

Prof. Fae Azhari, cross-appointed with CivMin and MIE, has received funding through the Connaught New Researcher awards for smart bridge decks.

Azhari relates her research:

Cracks, corrosion, and other defects are becoming an all too familiar sight in our aging concrete infrastructure. Concrete bridge decks are especially susceptible to deterioration due to ageing, chloride-induced corrosion, and traffic loading. Transportation agencies require careful periodic inspections of bridge decks, which not only is a difficult and time-consuming task, but may also miss critical damage due to the intermittent nature of these evaluations.

To perform timely and cost-effective maintenance and prevent any catastrophic failures, we need continuous monitoring of structural conditions. Would it not be nice if bridges had a skin that could sense traffic and surface conditions? This research aims to develop a cement-based composite material that can be applied to bridge decks as a skin-like overlay and provide real-time spatial mapping of loads and defects. The proposed cementitious sensing skin functions based on the principle of piezoresitivity, which means changes in loading conditions and material properties correspond to proportional changes in electrical resistivity.

Therefore, by measuring changes in resistivity of the “smart” deck, we can deduce the location and intensity of stresses and defects. Unlike conventional sensing devices, the physical and mechanical properties of cementitious composites are similar to those of the host structure so they can withstand mechanical and environmental conditions while doubling as a self-sensing material for strain and damage detection.


Originally announced via Engineering News