In this paper, a vibration testing and health monitoring system based on an impulse response excited by laser is proposed to detect damage in membrane structures. A high power Nd: YAG pulse laser is used to supply an ideal impulse to a membrane structure by generating shock waves via laser-induced breakdown in air. A health monitoring apparatus is developed with this vibration testing system and a damage detecting algorithm which only requires the vibration mode shape of the damaged membrane. Artificial damage is induced in membrane structure by cutting and tearing the membrane. The vibration mode shapes of the membrane structure extracted from vibration testing by using the laser-induced breakdown and laser Doppler vibrometer are then analyzed by 2-D continuous wavelet transformation. The location of damage is determined by the dominant peak of the wavelet coefficient which can be seen clearly by applying a boundary treatment and the concept of an iso-surface to the 2-D wavelet coefficient. The applicability of the present approach is verified by finite element analysis and experimental results, demonstrating the ability of the method to detect and identify the positions of damage induced on the membrane structure.
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