Characterization of Piezoelectric Wafer Active Sensors

Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Engineering, Mechanical Engineering


In the beginning, the classical one-dimensional analysis of piezoelectric active sensors is reviewed. The complete derivation for a free-free sensor is then extended to cover the cases of clamped and elastically constrained sensors. An analytical model based on structural vibration theory and theory of piezoelectricity was developed and used to predict the electromechanical (E/M) impedance response, as it would be measured at the piezoelectric active sensor’s terminals. The model considers one-dimensional structures and accounts for both axial and flexural vibrations. The numerical analysis was performed and supported by experimental results. Experiments were conducted on simple beam specimens to support the theoretical investigation, and on thin gauge aluminum plates to illustrate the method’s potential. It was shown that E/M impedance spectrum recorded by the piezoelectric active sensor accurately represents the mechanical response of a structure. It was further proved that the response of the structure is not modified by the presence of the sensor, thus validating the sensor’s non-invasive characteristics. The sensor calibration procedure is outlined and statistical analysis was presented. It was found that PZT active sensors have stable and repeatable characteristics not only in as-received condition, but also while mounted on 1-D or 2-D host structure. It is shown that such sensors, of negligible mass, can be permanently applied to the structure creating a non-intrusive sensor array adequate for on-line automatic structural identification and health monitoring.