Static vertical displacement measurement of bridges using fiber bragg grating (FBG) sensors

M. Yau, T. Chan, D. Thambiratnam, Hwa Yaw Tam

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Vertical displacements are one of the most relevant parameters for structural health monitoring of bridges in both the short and long terms. Bridge managers around the globe are always looking for a simple way to measure vertical displacements of bridges. However, it is difficult to carry out such measurements. On the other hand, in recent years, with the advancement of fiber-optic technologies, fiber Bragg grating (FBG) sensors are more commonly used in structural health monitoring due to their outstanding advantages including multiplexing capability, immunity of electromagnetic interference as well as high resolution and accuracy. For these reasons, using FBG sensors is proposed to develop a simple, inexpensive and practical method to measure vertical displacements of bridges. A curvature approach for vertical displacement measurements using curvature measurements is proposed. In addition, with the successful development of FBG tilt sensors, an inclination approach is also proposed using inclination measurements. A series of simulation tests of a full-scale bridge was conducted. It shows that both of the approaches can be implemented to determine vertical displacements for bridges with various support conditions, varying stiffness (EI) along the spans and without any prior known loading. These approaches can thus measure vertical displacements for most of slab-on-girder and box-girder bridges. Besides, the approaches are feasible to implement for bridges under various loading. Moreover, with the advantages of FBG sensors, they can be implemented to monitor bridge behavior remotely and in real time. A beam loading test was conducted to determine vertical displacements using FBG strain sensors and tilt sensors. The discrepancies as compared with dial gauges reading using the curvature and inclination approaches are 0.14mm (1.1%) and 0.41mm (3.2%), respectively. Further recommendations of these approaches for developments will also be discussed at the end of the paper.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-176
Number of pages12
JournalAdvances in Structural Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


  • bridge
  • fiber bragg grating (FBG) sensors
  • structural health monitoring (SHM)
  • tilt sensor
  • vertical displacement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction


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