MEMS: Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems for Wirelessly Monitoring the Health of Transportation Related Structures

This project report begins with this overarching summary of the project and is followed by full reports of the details of the five principal phases of the project. Each of these phase reports begins with a summary that describes the objective, context, work and the major findings. The longer, full phase reports contain detailed findings and supporting information. References are presented at the end. This report on Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) describes the development of small, wireless systems to monitor the response of cracks for structural health monitoring on and near transportation related structures. Developed were two types of wireless structural health monitoring (SHM) systems to record characteristics of cracks over long periods of time: Autonomous Crack Monitoring (ACM) and Autonomous Crack Propagation Sensing (ACPS). ACM seeks to correlate changes in widths of cosmetic cracks in structures to nearby blasting or construction vibration activity for the purposes of litigation or regulation. ACPS seeks to track growth of cracks in steel bridges, supplementing regular inspections and alerting stakeholders if a crack has grown. The ever decreasing size and increasing performance of computer technology suggest that expensive, labor-intensive, and intrusive wired SHM systems may be replaced by a similarly capable, easier to install, yet less expensive and intrusive wireless SHM systems based on existing, commercially available wireless sensor networks. The implementation of a wireless SHM system with all the functions of a standard, wired, AC powered system, no requirement for an on-site personal computer for system operation, a small enough footprint such that it will not disturb residents of the instrumented structure, or interfere with the operation of a transportation related structure, a sensor suite that can be operated with minimal power use, and system operation for at least six months without a battery change or any other human intervention, is fraught with obvious and non-obvious challenges.

  • Record URL:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the Department of Transportation University Transportation Centers Program.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Infrastructure Technology Institute (ITI)

    Northwestern University
    L260 Technological Institute, 2145 Sheridan Road
    Evanston, IL  United States  60208-3109

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    University Transportation Centers Program
    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Authors:
    • Dowding, Charles H
    • Kotowsky, M
    • Meissner, D
    • Koegel, T
  • Publication Date: 2012


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 91p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01493478
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: NU-ITI Project 60020780 (A224)
  • Created Date: Sep 4 2013 4:42PM