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July 1st, 2003
The feeling of fibre-reinforced composites
The November 2001 Airbus crash in New York was caused by a broken rudder. Such accidents due to material fatigue or failure could become a thing of the past if the components contained sensors to give early warning of unusual vibrations or mechanical wear. An even more elegant solution would be to use plastics reinforced with piezoelectric ceramic fibres, which convert mechanical forces into electrical pulses that can be analysed and monitored by computer.
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