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A Self-Sensing Adaptive Material for New Generation of Multifunctional Highway Bridge Bearing System

Project Information

Project ID: 
Project Status: 
Start Date: 
Monday, September 30, 2013
End Date: 
Thursday, September 29, 2016
FHWA Program: 
Exploratory Advanced Research
FHWA Subprogram: 
New Technology and Advanced Policies for Energy and Resource Conservation
FHWA Activity: 
Highway Safety Information System
TRT Terms: 
Loads, Monitoring, Composite materials, Research, Highways, Bridges
FHWA Discipline: 
Air Quality
Subject Area: 
Bridges and other structures, Research

Contact Information

First Name: 
Last Name: 
(202) 493-3106
Email Address: 
Structural Engineering Team
Office of Bridges and Structures
Office Code: 

Project Details

Project Description: 

The objective is to develop self-sensing adaptive bearing (SSAB) system that uses a wireless magnetorheological elastomer (MRE) sensor, which combines self-sensing (force, displacement, lateral stiffness-sensing actuation) with adaptive stiffness/vibration damping (tuned vibration absorption) into a single system. The proposed system will be capable of sensing transient displacement/load in monitoring bridge responses to environmental disturbances (such as traffic or high wind) at support locations, while at the same time producing variable stiffness properties for protection of bridges against various types of loading conditions. The successful realization of such a new multifunctional system could lead to quantum-leap changes in long-term highway bridge performance and maintenance. The information obtained through the MRE sensors will have an impact in future design of structures during extreme events.


To design, develop, test, and evaluate a wireless magnetorheological elastomer (MRE)-based sensor for highway bridges.

Test Methodology

(1) A universal equivalent circuit phenomenological model: to monitor the electric response of magnetorheological elastomers (MREs) with different particle inclusions under an applied magnetic field and mechanical deformations. (2) The percolation theory: to capture the changes of macroscopic electrical properties of MREs due to the particle structure variations.

Expected Benefits

It is anticipated that the proposed self-sensing adaptive bearing (SSAB) system will lead to new management models in highway structures that can improve long-term performance of the Nation's infrastructure.

Sponsor Organization: 
Contact Role: 
Managing Organization: 
Contact Role: 
Project Lead
Performing Organization: 
Contact Role: 
Principal Investigator