Microwave stress monitors


By Barry Fox Bridges and dams in earthquake zones need strain monitors so that engineers can check their structural integrity. But strain gauges built into the structures require connecting wires, which eventually rust and make measurements unreliable. The University of Manitoba, Canada, is applying for a patent on a wireless approach (WO 2004/3500). Instead of strain gauges, engineers at UM propose embedding empty metal boxes, the size of a cigarette packet, at stress points, connected to the outside world by a thin pipe. When microwave signals are fed into the pipe,
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