Graphic illustration for Distributed Sensing Textile For Bridge Monitoring. Overview of the proposed research

Overview of the proposed research.

PI: Xingwei Wang
Co-PI: Tzuyang Yu
Institution: University of Massachusetts Lowell
PI Email:
PI Phone: 978-934-1981

Background / Need:

The problem we are trying to solve is how to monitor the aging bridges. The problem is important because managing aging civil infrastructure is a major challenge facing every country in the world, including the U.S. Deterioration and premature failures of civil infrastructure have a critical impact on the U.S. economy, impacting business productivity, gross domestic product (GDP), employment, personal income, and international competitiveness. It is estimated by the ASCE that the U.S. economy is expected to lose almost $4 trillion in GDP, resulting in a loss of 2.5 million jobs in 2025 if the infrastructure investment gap is not addressed (ASCE 2016).


The objective of this project is to develop and manufacture sensing textiles for monitoring of civil infrastructure systems such as highway bridges.

  • Integrate intelligent fiber optic sensors into geotextiles to monitor highway bridges and send data to the asset owner.
  • Validate the sensing system on a bridge model.
Pedestrian bridge and POTDR between  Ball Hall and Onley Hall

The pedestrian bridge and POTDR


December 30, 2019: We have conducted a field test on a pedestrian bridge by using Brillouin Optical Time Domain Reflectometer (BOTDR) technology to validate the sensing system.

Students between Ball Hall and Olney Hall

Loading scheme for the bridge

The pedestrian bridge is located at UMass Lowell connecting Ball Hall and Olney Hall.

Strain changes between loading and unloading at the testing area were observed.

A major signal change that could come from either the internal defect or surface crack was analyzed.

Side view of a railway bridge  between Dover, NH and Wells ME

Side veiw_railway bridge between Dover, N.H. and Wells, Maine.

March 31, 2020: A field test was performed on a railway bridge located in New Hampshire.

Sensing textile was used to improve the installation of the fiber at the button of the bridge Salmon Falls River bridge which locates at South Berwick.

The fiber was sewed with the help of Saint Gobain.

After installing the sensing textile on railway bridge between Dover, NH and Wells ME

After installing the sensing textile on railway bridge between Dover, NH and Wells ME

The installation of the sensors consisted of different procedures.

In order to ensure a complete bonding between the optical cable and the surface, all dust and rust had to be removed.

This was done using an electrical polisher and acetone to remove the dust.

After the corrosion was removed, the optical fiber was glued to the surface using epoxy.

Finally the fiber was connected to the BOTDR for data measurement.

  • Professor Xingwei Wang, Ph.D., Electrical and Computer Engineering