Tiny sensors may help avert earthquake damage, track sonar danger, ‘listen’ to pipelines
Could a few seconds of warning be enough to mitigate the devastation of an impending earthquake? Tiny sensors being developed in a Simon Fraser University lab could help to give a pre-emptive head’s up, enough to secure critical infrastructure, such as bridges or power lines, and potentially, save lives.
Researchers in professor Behraad Bahreyni’s Intelligent Sensing Laboratory at SFU’s Surrey campus are creating ultra-sensitive accelerometers—tiny microsystems (less than 1cm2) that are capable of capturing the most sensitive seismic activities.
“When an earthquake happens, its sound, in the form of seismic pressure waves, travels faster than the destructive land motions,” explains Bahrenyi. “The sensitivity of these devices is such that they can pick up the pressure waves produced by an earthquake before it strikes. This could impact the outcome of such a disaster.”