Advances in air-coupled ultrasonic testing combining an optical microphone with novel transmitter concepts

Grager, Jan-Carl; Siemens AG; Germany

Grager, J-C.; Siemens AG; Germany
Kotschate, D.; Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM); Germany
Gamper, J.; Technical University of Munich; Germany
Gaal, M.; Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM); Germany
Pinkert, K.; Technical University of Munich; Germany
Mooshofer, H.; Siemens AG; Germany
Goldammer, M.; Siemens AG; Germany
Grosse, C.U.; Technical University of Munich; Germany

ID: ECNDT-0166-2018
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Session: Air-couppled UT
Room: G2
Date: 2018-06-14
Time: 10:50 - 11:10

Air-coupled ultrasound (ACU) is increasingly used for automated and contactless inspection of large-scale composite structures as well as for non-destructive testing (NDT) of water-sensitive or porous materials. The major challenge to overcome using ACU in NDT is the enormous loss of ultrasonic energy at each solid-air interface caused by the high acoustic impedance mismatch. Resonant low-frequency piezoceramic transducers are specially designed to achieve high sound pressure levels. For an expanded use of this technique, however, the spatial resolution needs to be increased.
Recent studies of our collaborative research group demonstrated the successful application of a resonance-free, highly sensitive receiver that uses a Fabry-Pérot etalon instead of piezoceramic materials or membranes. However, to reach the full potential of this broadband small-aperture optical microphone, novel transmitter concepts have to be developed and evaluated for advanced NDT applications.
Different types of transmitter were tested in combination with the optical microphone acting as receiver and they were compared to conventional piezoceramic transducers in through-transmission mode. Monolithic carbon fiber-reinforced plastics (CFRP) and CFRP sandwich structures containing different defect types were inspected. Presented results are processed as C-scan images and further evaluated for spatial resolution, signal-to-noise ratio and sensitivity of each measurement setup. Novel transmitter concepts, such as ferroelectret and thermoacoustic emitters, show promising findings with a considerably improved time and spatial resolution for ACU-NDT.