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Micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) provide vast improvements over existing sensing methods in the context of structural health monitoring (SHM) of highway infrastructure systems, including improved system reliability, improved longevity and enhanced system performance, improved safety against natural hazards and vibrations, and a reduction in life cycle cost in both operating and maintaining the infrastructure. Advancements in MEMS technology and wireless sensor networks provide opportunities for long-term, continuous, real-time structural health monitoring of pavements and bridges at low cost within the context of sustainable infrastructure systems.

The primary objective of this research was to investigate the use of MEMS in highway structures for health monitoring purposes. This study focused on investigating the use of MEMS and their potential applications in concrete through a comprehensive literature review, a vendor survey, and a laboratory study, as well as a small-scale field study. Based on the comprehensive literature review and vendor survey, the latest information available on off-the-shelf MEMS devices, as well as research prototypes, for bridge, pavement, and traffic applications were synthesized.

A commercially-available wireless concrete monitoring system based on radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology and off-the-shelf temperature and humidity sensors were tested under controlled laboratory and field conditions. The test results validated the ability of the RFID wireless concrete monitoring system in accurately measuring the temperature both inside the laboratory and in the field under severe weather conditions.

In consultation with the project technical advisory committee (TAC), the most relevant MEMS-based transportation infrastructure research applications to explore in the future were also highlighted and summarized.


InTrans Project 09-356

Copyright Owner

Iowa State University

Report Number

IHRB Project TR-575

Granting Agencies

Iowa Highway Research Board, Iowa Department of Transportation



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