Imaging microstructure on optically rough surfaces using spatially resolved acoustic spectroscopy

Li, Wenqi and Dryburgh, Paul and Pieris, Don and Patel, Rikesh and Clark, Matt and Smith, Richard J. (2023) Imaging microstructure on optically rough surfaces using spatially resolved acoustic spectroscopy. Applied Sciences, 13 (6). 3424. ISSN 2076-3417 (

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Featured Application: Measurement of material microstructure on industrially relevant surface finishes. Abstract: The microstructure of a material defines many of its mechanical properties. Tracking the microstructure of parts during their manufacturing is needed to ensure the designed performance can be obtained, especially for additively manufactured parts. Measuring the microstructure non-destructively on real parts is challenging for optical techniques such as laser ultrasound, as the optically rough surface impacts the ability to generate and detect acoustic waves. Spatially resolved acoustic spectroscopy can be used to measure the microstructure, and this paper presents the capability on a range of surface finishes. We discuss how to describe ’roughness’ and how this influences the measurements. We demonstrate that measurements can be made on surfaces with Ra up to 28 μm for a selection of roughness comparators. Velocity images on a range of real surface finishes, including machined, etched, and additively manufactured finishes in an as-deposited state, are presented. We conclude that the Ra is a poor descriptor for the ability to perform measurements as the correlation length of the roughness has a large impact on the ability to detected the surface waves. Despite this issue, a wide range of real industrially relevant surface conditions can be measured.