Nonlinear air-coupled thermosonics for fatigue micro-damage detection and localisation

Artur Dyrwal, Michele Meo, Francesco Ciampa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (SciVal)
93 Downloads (Pure)


Over the years, traditional active infrared thermography has played a pivotal role in ensuring that a component is free of any damage. However, whilst optical thermography is still not sufficiently sensitive to the presence of material micro-flaws, current vibro-thermography requires inspection solutions that are not always feasible, such as the use of coupling materials between the sensing probe and the monitored structure. This paper presents a valid alternative to current thermographic systems by developing and experimentally validating nonlinear air-coupled thermosonics for a contactless, rapid and accurate detection of fatigue micro-cracks in an aero-engine turbine blade. The proposed thermographic method combines the high sensitivity to micro-damage of nonlinear ultrasonic techniques with non-contact air-coupled ultrasonic transducers and thermographic equipment. Narrowband frequency sweeps were performed to identify local damage resonance frequencies in order to generate large vibrational amplitudes at the damage location and compensate for signal losses caused by the high acoustic impedance mismatch between the air and the sample. An infrared camera was then used to acquire the thermal response generated by frictional heat at the crack interfaces. Moreover, an image processing method based on a combination of morphological opening and a Savitzky-Golay smoothing filter was employed to enhance the quality of thermal images affected by anisotropic heating and thermal noise effects. Nonlinear air-coupled thermosonics experiments were validated with laser Doppler vibrometry scan measurements and compared with both flash and pulsed phase thermography. Thermal imaging results showed that the proposed nonlinear air-coupled thermosonics was the only thermographic technique able to detect fatigue micro-cracks, thus demonstrating its potential as an efficient and sensitive inspection tool for micro-damage detection in geometrically complex components.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-67
Number of pages9
JournalNDT and E International
Early online date27 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018


  • Air-coupled transducers
  • Laser vibrometry
  • Nonlinear ultrasounds
  • Thermography
  • Thermosonics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Nonlinear air-coupled thermosonics for fatigue micro-damage detection and localisation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this