Large-area resistive strain sensing sheet for structural health monitoring

Levent E. Aygun, Vivek Kumar, Campbell Weaver, Matthew Gerber, Sigurd Wagner, Naveen Verma, Branko Glisic, James C. Sturm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Damage significantly influences response of a strain sensor only if it occurs in the proximity of the sensor. Thus, two-dimensional (2D) sensing sheets covering large areas offer reliable early-stage damage detection for structural health monitoring (SHM) applications. This paper presents a scalable sensing sheet design consisting of a dense array of thin-film resistive strain sensors. The sensing sheet is fabricated using flexible printed circuit board (Flex-PCB) manufacturing process which enables low-cost and high-volume sensors that can cover large areas. The lab tests on an aluminum beam showed the sheet has a gauge factor of 2.1 and has a low drift of 1.5 µɛ/day. The field test on a pedestrian bridge showed the sheet is sensitive enough to track strain induced by the bridge’s temperature variations. The strain measured by the sheet had a root-mean-square (RMS) error of 7 µɛrms compared to a reference strain on the surface, extrapolated from fiber-optic sensors embedded within the bridge structure. The field tests on an existing crack showed that the sensing sheet can track the early-stage damage growth, where it sensed 600 µɛ peak strain, whereas the nearby sensors on a damage-free surface did not observe significant strain change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1386
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Information Systems
  • Instrumentation
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Biochemistry


  • Large area electronics
  • Resistive strain gauges
  • Strain sensing sheet
  • Structural health monitoring


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