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The usage of optical fibers for damage detection in ballistic protection composite laminates

Author(s): Živković Irena D. | Kojović Aleksandar M. | Tomić Miloš C. | Brajović Ljiljana M. | Aleksić Radoslav R.

Journal: Hemijska Industrija
ISSN 0367-598X

Volume: 60;
Issue: 1-2;
Start page: 39;
Date: 2006;
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Keywords: real-time damage monitoring | ballistic composite materials | fiber optic sensors

This paper describes the procedure of embedding fiber optic sensors in laminar thermoplastic composite material, as well as damage investigation after ballistic loading. Thermoplastic-reinforced composite materials were made for increased material damage resistance during ballistic loading. Damage inside the composite material was detected by observing the intensity drop of the light signal transmitted through the optical fibers. Experimental testing was carried out in order to observe and analyze the response of the material under various load conditions. Different types of Kevlar reinforced composite materials (thermoplastic, thermo reactive and thermoplastic with ceramic plate as the impact face) were made. Material damage resistance during ballistic loading was investigated and compared. Specimens were tested under multiple load conditions. The opto-electronic part of the measurement system consists of two light-emitting diodes as light sources for the optical fibers, and two photo detectors for the light intensity measurement. The output signal was acquired from photo detectors by means of a data acquisition board and personal computer. The measurements showed an intensity drop of the transmitted light signal as a result of the applied loading on composite structure for all the optical fibers. All the diagrams show similar behavior of the light signal intensity. In fact, all of them may be divided into three zones: the zone of penetration of the first composite layer, the bullet traveling zone through the composite material till its final stop, and the material relaxation zone. The attenuation of the light signal intensity during impact is caused by the influence of the applied dynamic stress on the embedded optical fibers. The applied stress caused micro bending of the optical fiber, changes in the shape of the cross-section and the unequal changes of the indices of refraction of the core and cladding due to the stress-optic effect. The main goal of the experiment was to develop a system for thermoplastic composite structure health monitoring during real life exploitation. The results of the experiments confirmed that optical fibers could be applied as intensity sensors in the real-time monitoring of structural changes in thermoplastic laminar composite materials under ballistic loading. The light signal intensity drops in an optical fiber in response to the applied loading on the composite material.
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