Since no major bridges have collapsed lately, the push to install 24/7 monitoring equipment has faded of late, but not so for these Austrailian researchers working with colleagues in China. Using nanotube-laced composites, the sensors could be attached to bridge structures, then be monitored by the conductivity which changes if cracks develop Look for systems like this to be called for the next time a bridge collapses :) R.C.J.
Nanocomposites are being developed to monitor the safety of bridges and aircraft by embedding nanotubes into sensors that change their conductivity when cracks or other structural defects occur. The Queensland University of Technology (Brisbane, Austrailia) said it will conduct the research in cooperation with the four other Australian universities. The polymer nanocomposite contains carbon nanotubes which change the conductivity of the material when cracks appear in structures where it is used. By monitoring the electrical conductivity of the material, early detection of structural faults may be possible.