Sunday, 10 January 2016


Hello everyone!

So, since this is my first message on this blog, I thought I should start by making a presentation of myself and my background.

In this way, my name is António Barrias, I’m 25 years old and I’m currently working towards a PhD degree on the project in the title, under the TRUSS ITN initiative in Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya in Barcelona since September 2015. I was born in a small but beautiful city in the north of Portugal called Vila Real in the unique Douro region. From a very young age, I was impressed by structural engineering, especially bridges. The first time I saw bridges like D. Luiz and Arrábida in Porto or 25 de Abril in Lisbon I was very intrigued and fascinated with such works of art as we call them in Portuguese. When the Vasco da Gama bridge in Lisbon, the longest bridge in Europe, was completed in 1998 and I crossed it for the first time with some family members, I asked them who were the amazing persons responsible by the astonishing feat of “making bridges”. When they told me that these structures were possible thanks to structural engineers, I decided right then, that I had to be one someday.

Vasco da Gama bridge in Lisbon, Portugal

Therefore, in 2008, after high school I enrolled at Faculty of Engineering of University of Porto (FEUP) in Civil Engineering where, when starting to learn more about this fascinating area, I realized I had made the correct decision despite the hard recession that was starting to develop in Portugal and that was taking a big toll in the construction business.

During this period, I participated in the Erasmus programme in the Czech Technical University in Prague for one semester where I was able to meet different people and different cultures but also a different way of looking to and solving civil engineering challenges.

When the time came to choose the specialization for my Masters, despite the fact that during my studies I discovered other areas that incited my interested, I knew all along that there was only one single correct option and that was structures. With my love for the superb examples of bridges present in Porto, when the opportunity appeared to propose the design of new road bridge between Vila Nova de Gaia and Porto as my master’s thesis I pleasantly took that challenge.

After concluding my master’s degree, in September 2013, I did a brief IAESTE (International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience) internship of two months in TU Kaiserslautern where I was aiding in the experiences being conducted in the Laboratory of Soil Structures and at the same time starting to develop a personal interest for laboratory work.

Hence, later, when the opportunity appeared, I became a researcher at the Laboratory of Concrete Technology and Structural Behaviour (LABEST) in FEUP where I was involved in the research programme “GNSS and accelerometers data fusion in large structures monitoring”. This project enabled me to combine my newfound interest in research with my passion with bridges and contributed greatly in my inclination of pursuing a research career in this area and, in this way, applying for TRUSS programme for the ESR 11 topic.

This is a very exciting and promising theme. Distributed fiber optic sensors, besides the advantages of discrete fiber optic sensors such as immunity to electromagnetic interferences, corrosion, long-term reliability, small size and weight, offers the possibility of continuous monitoring of strain and temperature along the whole length of the fiber. This is of great interest especially for concrete structures where the prediction of the exact location of cracks is impossible and in this way, it’s possible to cover bigger lengths of the structure that would otherwise require a large number of sensors in a more cost-effective and simple way. There are three different processes of scattering that can be explored in a DOFS system: Brillouin, Raman and Rayleigh scattering. Optical Backscatter Reflectometry (OBR) technique takes advantage of the later in order to obtain strain and temperature measurements with high spatial resolution.

Measuring process by OBR technique

The objectives of the project are to analyze the spatial resolution, strain accuracy obtained with these sensors without the failure and debonding from the concrete structures and their long-term reliability. It’s also intended to, at the end of this project, propose the criteria for the design and deployment of a permanent monitoring system based on these sensors.

DOFS real world application (active part)
DOFS real world application (passive part)
In the next post, after an introduction of TRUSS, I will talk about my developed work on this topic literature review, so please stay tuned.

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