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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T012862/1
Title: Remote, 3D ultrasonic imaging in extreme environments using 2D laser induced phased arrays
Principal Investigator: Stratoudaki, Dr T
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
NDE Research Association RCNDE
Department: Electronic and Electrical Engineering
Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Scheme: New Investigator Award
Starts: 01 March 2020 Ends: 28 February 2022 Value (£): 324,884
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Eng. Dynamics & Tribology Instrumentation Eng. & Dev.
Microsystems Optical Devices & Subsystems
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing Energy
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
03 Dec 2019 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 3 and 4 December 2019 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The application of "phased array ultrasonics" has had a profound impact on science and medicine. It is the technology at the heart of all medical ultrasonic imaging systems and sonars. This proposal brings the equivalent of phased array technology to laser ultrasonics for remote, volumetric, 3D ultrasonic imaging.

In laser ultrasonics the sound is generated through the rapid thermal heating and expansion of the material under test, due to the incident laser radiation. However, there are serious signal-to-noise limitations associated with this technique, which could be addressed using an array configuration just as it happens with conventional, transducer based arrays. Up to now it has been very difficult to perform phased array ultrasonics with lasers because the technology to focus and steer the ultrasonic bulk waves for generation or detection puts severe demands on hardware (multiple lasers for ultrasonic generation or complicated experimental setups) and cost. The proposed work will be based on synthesising the Laser Induced Phased Arrays (LIPAs) in post processing, by first acquiring the Full Matrix and then applying a suitable imaging algorithm (e.g. the Total Focusing Method - TFM). The post processing of the optical based data in LIPAs, keeps the experimental setup simple and cost effective. These remote, couplant-free ultrasonic arrays, made of light, can be applied in extreme environments, for in-line process monitoring or in-service volumetric inspection. The aim of the proposed research is to develop a laser based ultrasonic measurement capability for remote, nondestructive, quantitative evaluation and 3D ultrasonic imaging in extreme environments for safety critical applications, where conventional arrays cannot be applied. 2D LIPAs will be able to image a given defect from a range of angles, obtaining characterisation detail far beyond what is achievable with a 1D array.

The core research objectives within this project are:

* Development of laser induced phased arrays for 3D ultrasonic imaging using FMC and TFM.

* Optimisation of the data collection method to laser ultrasonics to improve speed of process.

* Optimisation of the TFM imaging algorithm to laser ultrasonics for efficient ultrasonic imaging.

* Demonstration of system's industrial application potential for inspection and process monitoring in extreme environments.

The success of this work will benefit the non-destructive testing community, the laser ultrasonics community and will enable engineers and material scientists in need of a technique to address extreme environments and places of restricted access, to test the performance of their structures, either during the manufacturing process (e.g. additive manufacturing) or in-service (e.g. in situ inspection of radioactive waste containers). Examples of potential applications include: process understanding and control for manufacturing in extreme environments such as welding and additive manufacturing, increasing process reliability which is crucial for the future of additive manufacturing; in situ ultrasonic inspection in aero-engines or power generators. Other applications are expected in fields such as chemistry, biology and biomedical imaging where remote ultrasonic imaging is needed in sterilised or corrosive environments.

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Organisation Website: http://www.strath.ac.uk