Direct-write piezoelectric transducers on carbon-fiber reinforced polymer structures for exciting and receiving guided ultrasonic waves

Marilyne Philibert, Shuting Chen, Voon Kean Wong, Kui Yao, Constantinos Soutis, Matthieu Gresil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Advancements in the structural health monitoring (SHM) technology of composite materials are of paramount importance for early detection of critical damage. In this work, direct-write ultrasonic transducers (DWTs) were designed for the excitation and reception of selective ultrasonic guided waves and fabricated by spraying 25 μm thick piezoelectric poly(vinylidene fluoride-co-trifluoroethylene) (P(VDF-TRFE)) coating with a comb-shaped electrode on carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) plates. The characteristics and performance of the ultrasonic DWTs were benchmarked with the state-of-the-art devices, discrete lead zirconate titanate (PZT) ceramic transducers surface-mounted on the same CFRP plates. The DWTs exhibited improved Lamb wave mode excitation (A0 or S0 mode) relative to the discrete PZT transducers. Moreover, high signal-to-noise ratio was obtained by effectively cancelling other modes and enhancing the directivity with the periodic comb-shaped electrode design of the DWTs, despite the smaller signal amplitudes. The enhanced directivity overcompensates for lower amplitude attenuation, making DWT a good candidate for locally monitoring critical stress hot-spot regions in the CFRP structure prone to early damage initiation. Further, it is shown that pairing a DWT sensor with a discrete PZT actuator could further achieve balanced performance in both wave mode selection and signal amplitudes, making this combination really attractive for ultrasonic SHM.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 Apr 2021


  • Acoustics
  • Coatings
  • Composite material
  • direct write
  • Discrete wavelet transforms
  • Dispersion
  • Electrodes
  • Lamb wave
  • Monitoring
  • piezoelectric polymer
  • Piezoelectric transducers
  • Structural Health Monitoring
  • ultrasonic transducer

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