Smart Structures and Fiber Optic Technology for 21st Century Control Applications PUBLIC ACCESS

[+] Author Affiliations
W. B. Spillman, Jr.

BFGoodrich Aerospace, Vergennes, VT

Paper No. 96-GT-105, pp. V005T15A012; 5 pages
  • ASME 1996 International Gas Turbine and Aeroengine Congress and Exhibition
  • Volume 5: Manufacturing Materials and Metallurgy; Ceramics; Structures and Dynamics; Controls, Diagnostics and Instrumentation; Education; General
  • Birmingham, UK, June 10–13, 1996
  • Conference Sponsors: International Gas Turbine Institute
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-7876-7
  • Copyright © 1996 by ASME


Throughout the 20th century, the evolution of control systems has proceeded from extremely simplistic systems to those with large complicated architectures and strong centralized control. Recently, the advantages of more distributed control architectures have been increasingly recognized, including even closing the loops at the actuation locations. This trend toward more distributed control systems has been mirrored in the new field of so-called “smart” structures in which the enhanced performance, multi-functionality and efficiency of biological constructs (arising from their ability to adapt and the distributed hierarchical nature of their organization) is emulated in new advanced structural designs. Considerable work has been carried out to develop fiber optic technology for smart structures applications. Recent developments in fiber optic communications and in fiber optic sensing indicate that fiber optic technology will be very important to the successful development of many of the smart structures of the future. It has long been recognized that one of the key functionalities required for a structure to be termed smart is an ability to sense, i.e. if the results of an action cannot be observed, closed loop control is impossible. For advanced control purposes, the use of long gauge length fiber optic sensors configured as matched filters for the preprocessing of large amounts of data appears to offer considerable potential benefit. In this paper, a formal definition of a smart structure is provided and an overview of the technologies involved in the smart structures area is given. Potential beneficial use of these technologies in advanced control systems is then discussed with specific emphasis placed on the appropriate application of fiber optic technology.

Copyright © 1996 by ASME
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