The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Geopolymer-based smart adhesives for infrastructure health monitoring: concept and feasibility

TitleGeopolymer-based smart adhesives for infrastructure health monitoring: concept and feasibility
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsHe J, Zhang G, Hou S, Cai C.S.
JournalJournal of Transportation Research Board
Start Page100
Date Published02/2011
KeywordsAdhesives, Cracking, Fiber optics, Geopolymer, infrastructure, Monitoring, Strain

This paper describes the initial efforts to explore a new application of metakaolin-based geopolymers to structural health monitoring. A distributed geopolymer-fiber optic sensing (G-FOS) system is proposed, where geopolymers are used as smart adhesives to affix optical fibers to existing in-service structures to form an integrated G-FOS sensor. Results of feasibility testing in the laboratory indicated that the tensile cracking strain of geopolymers can be controlled by finely tuning the Si/Al ratios or adding appropriate aggregate fillers such as sand, thus rendering the “smart” nature of geopolymers for deformation-based sensing. Geopolymers with SiO2/Al2O3SiO2/Al2O3 ratios ⩾3.8⩾3.8 are viable adhesives that can develop strong bond to concrete, steel, and glass fiber. Laboratory prototype testing on steel specimens under uniaxial tension and on concrete beams under four-point bending validated the concept and feasibility of the proposed G-FOS system for structural health monitoring. It further demonstrated that the G-FOS system cannot only detect overstraining events in steel but also measure the crack size in concrete.