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A novel technique for acoustic emission monitoring in civil structures with global fiber optic sensors
The application of acoustic emission (AE)-based damage detection is gaining interest in the field of civil structural health monitoring. Damage progress can be detected and located in real time and the recorded AEs hold information on the fracture process which produced them. One of the drawbacks for on-site application in large-scale concrete and masonry structures is the relatively high attenuation of the ultrasonic signal, which limits the detection range of the AE sensors. Consequently, a large number of point sensors are required to cover a certain area. To tackle this issue, a global damage detection system, based on AE detection with a polarization-modulated, single mode fiber optic sensor (FOS), has been developed. The sensing principle, data acquisition and analysis in time and frequency domain are presented. During experimental investigations, this AE-FOS is applied for the first time as a global sensor for the detection of crack-induced AEs in a full-scale concrete beam. Damage progress is monitored during a cyclic four-point bending test and the AE activity, detected with the FOS, is related to the subsequent stages of damage progress in the concrete element. The results obtained with the AE-FOS are successfully linked to the mechanical behavior of the concrete beam and a qualitative correspondence is found with AE data obtained by a commercial system.