Impedance-based structural health monitoring (SHM) is a non-destructive, active technique for real-time structural damage assessment. Conventional impedance-based SHM practices apply a sinusoidal signal of fixed amplitude to excite the piezoceramic patch and obtain the impedance signature over a certain frequency range. Damage is then detected by comparing the measured impedance signature to a baseline measurement taken at the pristine state.
In this work, the amplitude of the driving signal, which is directly related to the magnitude of the excitation force acting on the structure, is introduced as an additional variable, and sweeps over both frequencies and amplitudes are performed. Several structural defects, such as cracks and loose joints, are nonlinear in nature. Therefore, changing the excitation force will allow the detection of such damage induced nonlinearities and track their evolution.
Numerical simulations are carried out to study the effects of nonlinearities on the impedance signature using a single mode model. Several types of structural nonlinearities, such as hardening, softening, and nonlinear damping are studied with the assumption that the piezoelectric actuator stays in its linear regime. Experiments are conducted on a single beam and a lap joint, and impedance signatures in the range of 12–15 KHz are measured at different levels of excitation. Nonlinear damping and softening behavior are detected experimentally by examining the measured impedance signatures. Numerical and experimental findings suggest the possibility of detecting and tracking structural nonlinearities using impedance measurements.