A Fiber Optic BasedSmart Structure wiipossess a structurally integrated optical microsensor
system for determining its state. This built-in sensor system should, in real-time, be able
to: evaluate the strain or deformation of a structure, monitor if its vibrating or subject to
excessive loads, check its temperature and warn of the appearance of any hot spots. In
addition a Smart Structure should maintain a vigilant survelliance over its structural integrity.
The successful development of Smart StructureTechnolgy could lead to: aircraft that are
safer, lighter, more efficient, easier to maintain and to service; pipelines, pressure vessels and
storage tanks that constantly monitor their structuralintegrity and immediately issue an alert
ifany problem is detected; space platforms that check forpressure leaks, unwanted vibration,
excess thermal buildup, and deviation from some preassigned shape.This technology is
particularly appropriate for composite materials where internal damage generated by:
impacts, manufacturing flaws, excessive loading or fatigue could be detected and assessed.
In service monitoring of structural loads, especially in regions like wing roots of aircraft,
could be ofconsiderable benefit in helping to avoid structural overdesign and reduce weight.
Structurally imbedded optical fibers sensors might also serve to monitor the cure state of
composite thermosets during their fabrication and thereby contribute to improved quality
control of these products.