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Dr. Piervincenzo Rizzo receives NSF grant to develop applications to monitor structural integrity

PITTSBURGH  (November 29, 2012) … The development of tools to assess the health of civil structures and the potential to convert mechanical energy to electrical energy will be the focus of a new grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to  Piervincenzo Rizzo, PhD , associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering. Dr. Rizzo will serve as principal investigator on this collaborative research grant funded through the NSF's Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI).

According to the grant abstract, "Collaborative Research: Highly Nonlinear Transducer Arrays for Structural Health Monitoring," this project will investigate the fundamental properties and applications of novel arrays of nonlinear actuators for the nondestructive evaluation (NDE) and structural health monitoring (SHM) of civil structures and materials. 

"With my colleagues at Caltech we will explore the possibility of utilizing waves to determine the health of a structure or a building material," Dr. Rizzo explains. "Through wave transmission we hope to be able to monitor a structure's physical condition and determine whether there is damage or the potential of a future integrity failure."

In addition, the investigators will also explore the ability to use the nonlinear actuators for focusing and harvesting elastic energy in order to power small devices and sensors. 

From the Abstract
The arrays of nonlinear actuators included in this study can generate highly nonlinear solitary waves (HNSWs), which are compact non-dispersive stress waves with a finite spatial dimension. The spatial dimension of these pulses is independent of the wave amplitude and dependent only on the nonlinear material's geometry. HNSWs hold promise to improve current NDE/SHM devices because of their ability to support non-oscillatory, high amplitude signals that rely exclusively on mechanical excitations. 

On a fundamental level, the investigators aim at understanding the behavior of arrays of highly nonlinear actuators adjacent to different neighboring solid media. In particular, they will: (i) study the ability to focus nonlinear waves as a function of the properties of the adjacent media, (ii) design and implement methods to improve transmission of the signal across the interface between the actuators and the adjacent media; (iii) determine the limitations of signal power and the degradation of performance due to failure of the highly nonlinear actuators. From a purely applied perspective, the project will be devoted to the application of HNSWs for the NDE/SHM of structural materials. 

Besides the impact to the nonlinear dynamics scientific community, the proposed research will have strategic importance to a broad range of engineering applications. The NDE/SHM component of this research enables to increase the safety of existing civil and aerospace structures. Research outcomes will enable the development of novel transducers arrays for acoustic imaging, the successful outcome of our research could impact the biomedical imaging community.

About Dr. Rizzo 
Piervincenzo Rizzo's academic and professional interests are in the fields of nondestructive testing/evaluation, structural health monitoring, signal processing and automatic pattern recognition for real-time prognosis of structural and biological materials, and implementation of embedded sensor network for the health monitoring of civil, mechanical and aerospace structures. Current works include: 1) the development of guided wave-based SHM methodologies for pipes; 2) the investigation of highly-nonlinear solitary waves for the noninvasive assessment of structural and biomaterials including structural buckling. Dr. Rizzo earned his Laurea (MS) in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Palermo, Italy; and his MS and PhD in Structural Engineering from the University of California San Diego. For more information visit his website at  http://www.pitt.edu/~pir3/


Contact: Paul Kovach