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Open Circuit Resonant (SansEC) Sensor Technology for Lightning Mitigation and Damage Detection and Diagnosis for Composite Aircraft ApplicationsTraditional methods to protect composite aircraft from lightning strike damage rely on a conductive layer embedded on or within the surface of the aircraft composite skin. This method is effective at preventing major direct effect damage and minimizes indirect effects to aircraft systems from lightning strike attachment, but provides no additional benefit for the added parasitic weight from the conductive layer. When a known lightning strike occurs, the points of attachment and detachment on the aircraft surface are visually inspected and checked for damage by maintenance personnel to ensure continued safe flight operations. A new multi-functional lightning strike protection (LSP) method has been developed to provide aircraft lightning strike protection, damage detection and diagnosis for composite aircraft surfaces. The method incorporates a SansEC sensor array on the aircraft exterior surfaces forming a "Smart skin" surface for aircraft lightning zones certified to withstand strikes up to 100 kiloamperes peak current. SansEC sensors are open-circuit devices comprised of conductive trace spiral patterns sans (without) electrical connections. The SansEC sensor is an electromagnetic resonator having specific resonant parameters (frequency, amplitude, bandwidth & phase) which when electromagnetically coupled with a composite substrate will indicate the electrical impedance of the composite through a change in its resonant response. Any measureable shift in the resonant characteristics can be an indication of damage to the composite caused by a lightning strike or from other means. The SansEC sensor method is intended to diagnose damage for both in-situ health monitoring or ground inspections. In this paper, the theoretical mathematical framework is established for the use of open circuit sensors to perform damage detection and diagnosis on carbon fiber composites. Both computational and experimental analyses were conducted to validate this new method and system for aircraft composite damage detection and diagnosis. Experimental test results on seeded fault damage coupons and computational modeling simulation results are presented. This paper also presents the shielding effectiveness along with the lightning direct effect test results from several different SansEC LSP and baseline protected and unprotected carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) test panels struck at 40 and 100 kiloamperes following a universal common practice test procedure to enable damage comparisons between SansEC LSP configurations and common practice copper mesh LSP approaches. The SansEC test panels were mounted in a LSP test bed during the lightning test. Electrical, mechanical and thermal parameters were measured during lightning attachment and are presented with post test nondestructive inspection comparisons. The paper provides correlational results between the SansEC sensors computed electric field distribution and the location of the lightning attachment on the sensor trace and visual observations showing the SansEC sensor's affinity for dispersing the lightning attachment.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Langley Research Center
Document Type
Technical Publication (TP)
Szatkowski, George N.
(NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Dudley, Kenneth L.
(NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Smith, Laura J.
(NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Wang, Chuantong
(National Inst. of Aerospace Hampton, VA, United States)
Ticatch, Larry A.
(National Inst. of Aerospace Hampton, VA, United States)
Date Acquired
February 3, 2015
Publication Date
November 1, 2014
Subject Category
Air Transportation And Safety
Composite Materials
Instrumentation And Photography
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 648987.
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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