Applications of physics‐informed neural networks for property characterization of complex materials

Sangmin Lee, John S. Popovics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The characterization of in‐place material properties is important for quality control and condition assessment of the built infrastructure. Although various methods have been developed to characterize structural materials in situ, many suffer limitations and cannot provide complete or desired characterization, especially for inhomogeneous and complex materials such as concrete and rock. Recent advances in machine learning and artificial neural networks (ANN) can help address these limitations. In particular, physics‐informed neural networks (PINN) portend notable advantages over traditional physics‐based or purely data‐driven approaches. PINN is a particular form of ANN, where physics‐based equations are embedded within an ANN structure in order to regularize the outputs during the training process. This paper reviews the fundamentals of PINN, notes its differences from traditional ANN, and reviews applications of PINN for selected material characterization tasks. A specific application example is presented where mechanical wave propagation data are used to characterize in‐place material properties. Ultrasonic data are obtained from experiments on long rod‐shaped mortar and glass samples; PINN is applied to these data to extract inhomogeneous wave velocity data, which can indicate mechanical material property variations with respect to length.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-188
Number of pages11
JournalRILEM Technical Letters
StatePublished - Jul 6 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Artificial neural networks
  • Construction material characterization
  • Physics‐informed neural networks
  • Porous media flow
  • Wave propagation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering


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