Faculty Advisor

Ryszard J. Pryputniewicz

Faculty Advisor

John M. Sullivan Jr.

Faculty Advisor

Yiming (Kevin) Rong

Faculty Advisor

Cosme Furlong

Faculty Advisor

Zhikun Hou

Faculty Advisor

Bradley A. Waterson


"Health monitoring of structures by experimental modal analysis is typically performed with piezoelectric based transducers. These transducers are usually heavy, large in size, and require high power to operate, all of which reduce their versatility and applicability to small components and structures. The advanced developments of microfabrication and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) have lead to progressive designs of small footprint, low dynamic mass and actuation power, and high-resolution inertial sensors. Because of their small dimensions and masses, MEMS inertial sensors could potentially replace the piezoelectric transducers for experimental modal analysis of small components and structures. To transfer data from MEMS inertial sensors to signal analyzers, traditional wiring methods may be utilized. Such methods provide reliable data transfer and are simple to integrate. However, in order to study complex structures, multiple inertial sensors, attached to different locations on a structure, are required. In such cases, using wires increases complexity and eliminates possibility of achieving long distance monitoring. Therefore, there is a need to implement wireless communications capabilities to MEMS sensors. In this thesis, two different wireless communication systems have been developed to achieve wireless health monitoring of structures using MEMS inertial sensors. One of the systems is designed to transmit analog signals, while the other transmits digital signals. The analog wireless system is characterized by a linear frequency response function in the range of 400 Hz to 16 kHz, which covers the frequency bandwidth of the MEMS inertial sensors. This system is used to perform modal analysis of a test structure by applying multiple sensors to the structure. To verify the results obtained with MEMS inertial sensors, noninvasive, laser optoelectronic holography (OEH) methodology is utilized to determine modal characteristics of the structure. The structure is also modeled with analytical and computational methods for correlation of and verification with the experimental measurements. Results indicate that attachment of MEMS inertial sensors, in spite of their small mass, has measurable effects on the modal characteristics of the structure being considered, verifying their applicability in health monitoring of structures. The digital wireless system is used to perform high resolution tilt and rotation measurements of an object subjected to angular and linear accelerations. Since the system has been developed based on a microcontroller, programs have been developed to interface the output signals of the sensors to the microcontroller and RF components. The system is calibrated using the actual driving electronics of the MEMS sensors, and it has achieved an angular resolution of 1.8 mrad. The results show viability of the wireless MEMS inertial sensors in applications requiring accurate tilt and rotation measurements. Additional results presented included application of a MEMS gyroscope and microcontroller to perform angular rate measurements. Since the MEMS gyroscope only generates analog output signals, an analog to digital conversion circuit was developed. Also, a program has been developed to perform analog to digital conversion with two decimal places of accuracy. The experimental results demonstrate feasibility of using the microcontroller and the gyroscope to perform wireless angular rate measurements."


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Mechanical Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





angular rate, cantilever, wireless, RF, microcontroller, tilt and rotation, health monitoring, inertial sensors, MEMS, Microelectromechanical systems, Wireless communication systems, Strains and stresses, Measurement