A smart sensor using a mechanical memory that can monitor peak strain or displacement was developed. The mechanism of the mechanical memory relies on the pure plastic extension of the sensing section that is realized by elastic buckling of a thin wire. The change in length of the sensing section is detected via a change in resistance, inductance or capacitance. In addition, by introducing an LC-circuit into the sensor we can add a capability for wireless retrieval of the measured data. Basically, the sensor does not need any power supply for measurements. A small power supply is required only when the data retrieval becomes necessary. Theoretical and experimental studies show the feasibility of using the sensor developed for structural health monitoring of damage-controlled structures. Though the sensor is designed to memorize the peak strain or displacement only, it can be easily modified to measure other damage indices that are physical values well correlated with the critical damage in a structure. Typical damage indices include peak strain, peak displacement, peak acceleration, absorbed energy and accumulated plastic deformation. Simple and inexpensive passive sensors that can monitor such damage indices are particularly useful for quantifying the performance of a damage-controlled building, as most damaging energy due to a large earthquake is taken care of by structural control devices. The devices are usually covered by a wall or a fire-protection material, so a simple inspection by eye is not possible without removing cover materials. We believe the installation of the sensors developed will ensure the safety of such a building with minimal cost.
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