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22 July 2003 Micro- and nano-NDE systems for aircraft: great things in small packages
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Recent advancements in small, microscopic NDE sensor technologies will revolutionize how aircraft maintenance is done, and will significantly improve the reliability and airworthiness of current and future aircraft systems. A variety of micro/nano systems and concepts are being developed that will enable whole new capabilities for detecting and tracking structural integrity damage. For aging aircraft systems, the impact of micro-NDE sensor technologies will be felt immediately, with dramatic reductions in labor for maintenance, and extended useable life of critical components being two of the primary benefits. For the fleet management of future aircraft systems, a comprehensive evaluation and tracking of vehicle health throughout its entire life cycle will be needed. Indeed, micro/nano NDE systems will be instrumental in realizing this futuristic vision. Several major challenges will need to be addressed, however, before micro- and nano-NDE systems can effectively be implemented, and this will require interdisciplinary research approaches, and a systematic engineering integration of the new technologies into real systems. Future research will need to emphasize systems engineering approaches for designing materials and structures with in-situ inspection and prognostic capabilities. Recent advances in 1) embedded / add-on micro-sensors, 2) computer modeling of nondestructive evaluation responses, and 3) wireless communications are important steps toward this goal, and will ultimately provide previously unimagined opportunities for realizing whole new integrated vehicle health monitoring capabilities. The future use of micro/nano NDE technologies as vehicle health monitoring tools will have profound implications, and will provide a revolutionary way of doing NDE in the near and distant future.
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James C. Malas, Claudia V. Kropas-Hughes, James L. Blackshire, Thomas Moran, Deborah Peeler, W. Garth Frazier, and Danny Parker "Micro- and nano-NDE systems for aircraft: great things in small packages", Proc. SPIE 5045, Testing, Reliability, and Application of Micro- and Nano-Material Systems, (22 July 2003);

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