An Elizabethtown College professor has developed an embedded sensor that functions in cement much like a thermometer in the Thanksgiving turkey.
“The thermometer indicates if the turkey is done by measuring its internal temperature,” said Nathaniel Hager III, an adjunct faculty member in Elizabethtown’s physics and engineering department. “The embedded sensor does the same thing in concrete by monitoring how quickly water involved in the curing process is chemically combining with portland cement.”
Hager’s research, conducted with business partner and chemist Roman C. Domszy, involves embedding a disposable sensor in a concrete structure when the cement is poured. “A fast electrical pulse is bounced off the sensor, producing a reflected pulse that contains molecular signals due to unreacted water and water combining with portland cement,” Hager said. “Tracking these two signals along with cure time provides a better understanding of the cure process and identifies irregularities that lead to improper cure. Essentially, we’re looking for the signals that correspond with cement strength. If we don’t get them, we have to trust the signals to tell us that something is wrong.”
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