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Generation and reception of ultrasonic guided waves in composite plates using comfortable piezoelectric transmitters and optical-fiber detectors

Gachagan, Anthony and Hayward, Gordon and McNab, Alistair and Reynolds, P. and Pierce, Stephen and Philp, WR and Culshaw, Brian (1999) Generation and reception of ultrasonic guided waves in composite plates using comfortable piezoelectric transmitters and optical-fiber detectors. IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control, 46 (1). pp. 72-81. ISSN 0885-3010

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A condition monitoring nondestructive evaluation (NDE) system, combining the generation of ultrasonic Lamb waves in thin composite plates and their subsequent detection using an embedded optical fiber system is described. The acoustic source is of low profile with respect to the composite plate thickness, surface conformable, and able to efficiently launch a known Lamb wave mode, at operating frequencies between 100 and 500 kHz, over typical propagation distances of 100 to 500 mm. It incorporates both piezocomposite technology and interdigital design techniques to generate the fundamental symmetrical Lamb wave mode in both metallic and carbon-fiber composite plates. Linear systems and finite element modeling techniques have been used to evaluate the operation of the transducer structure, and this is supplemented by experimental verification of the simulated data. An optical fiber, either bonded to the surface or embedded across the length of the composite plate samples, is used to detect the propagating ultrasonic Lamb waves. Single mode silica fiber has been used in conjunction with a portable 633 nm Mach-Zehnder interferometer for signal demodulation and subsequent data acquisition. This hybrid system is shown to generate and detect the fundamental symmetrical Lamb wave (s/sub 0/) in both carbon-fiber and glass-fiber reinforced composite plates. Importantly, the system signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) associated with the acoustic source compares favorably with s/sub 0/ Lamb wave generation using a conventional transducer and angled perspex wedge arrangement.