Center for Composite Materials - University of Delaware

Research Summary

Integrated Rehabilitation and Health Monitoring of Concretestructures Using Structural Carbon Nanotube-based Hybrid Composites

Authors: Hongbo Dai, Thomas Schumacher, and Erik Thostenson


• We developed a simple, economical and scalable self-assembly technique for fabricating Carbon Nanotube (CNT) -based sensing composites.
• The CNT-based nonwoven sensing fabric can be integrated with structural fibers (such as glass and aramid) to offer the combined functionality of structural strengthening and health monitoring.

“Wetting-and-Drying” Two-Step Fabrication Process

Carbon Nanotube-Based Sensing

• When CNTs are properly coated onto the nonwoven carrier fabric they form electrically percolating networks that are piezoresistive and then can act as in situ strain and damage sensors.

Large Scale Experiments

Flexural Strengthening

Health Monitoring

Concrete Beam at Failure


• A simple, economical and scalable self-assembly technique for manufacturing CNT-based sensing composite was established;
• Scalability and feasibility of using the proposed CNT-based hybrid composites in large concrete members were validated (“largest CNT-nanocomposite so far!”);
• Structural rehabilitation of the concrete beam using the GFRP via on-site VARTM was verified;
• Real-time corrections between resistive responses of the sensing composites and the mechanical behavior of the member were validated and characterized.


This research is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), CMMI Grant No.1234830.
Program Director Dr. Kishor Mehta.

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