Damage detection in composite materials using frequency response methods

S.S. Kessler, S.M. Spearing, M.J. Atalla, C.E.S. Cesnik, C. Soutis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cost-effective and reliable damage detection is critical for the utilization of composite materials. This paper presents part of an experimental and analytical survey of candidate methods for the in situ detection of damage in composite materials. The experimental results are presented for the application of modal analysis techniques applied to graphite/epoxy specimens containing representative damage modes. Changes in natural frequencies and modes were found using a laser vibrometer, and 2-D finite element models were created for comparison with the experimental results. The models accurately predicted the response of the specimens at low frequencies, but coalescence of higher frequency modes makes mode-dependant damage detection difficult for structural applications. The frequency response method was found to be reliable for detecting even small amounts of damage in a simple composite structure, however the potentially important information about damage type, size, location and orientation were lost using this method since several combinations of these variables can yield identical response signatures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-95
Number of pages9
JournalComposites. Part B: Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002


  • polymer–matrix composites
  • vibration
  • finite element analysis
  • non-destructive testing


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