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High-end Cameras with ultrasonic technology
2008-08-20

Imperium, Inc., the sole worldwide provider of ultrasound camera technology, has launched the Acoustocam I500 Ultrasound Imaging Camera. This device is the world's first fully portable real time imaging system for the nondestructive detection of defects within materials such as composite and metal structures. The Acoustocam I500 addresses one of most difficult challenges in industrial inspection of materials: internal damage detection. The Acoustocam I500 can immediately detect a variety of internal flaws such as impact damage, voids, delaminations, disbonds, corrosion, and internal cracks. In many of these cases, the damage cannot be visually seen on the outside of these structures. The alternatives today are either expensive, unreliable, or require specialized training. The device, a camcorder for ultrasound, generates real time video of internal flaws. It also provides more traditional quantitative tools. The tool has broad application in the aerospace, petrochemical, power, automotive, marine, sporting goods, and microelectronics industries. For example, today's newer aircraft are built more out of lightweight composite materials. However, one concern about composites is that internal defects cannot be seen from the exterior of the aircraft skin. These internal defects can be catastrophic when the aircraft is in flight. With this new device, internal damage can be quickly detected and quantified by any mechanic or inspector before failure occurs. The inspection is completely noninvasive. The idea of the ultrasonic camera operation Consider a surface of a solid object against which another object has been placed, so that the contact between the two objects is not ideal, i.e. there are some inhomogeneities. The sound wave which reaches such a place does not only pass from one environment to the other, get reflected and diffracted in the contact area as described by classical theory but it also is subject to some additional scattering and transformation to a different kind of waves. This phenomenon is the effect of disturbance in the sound propagation conditions in the contact area between two objects, hence it will be referred to as the contact scattering. It is sure that this kind of scattering is the result of not only the contact area of the two objects but also the area near the objects' surface (henceforth it will be referred to as the near surface structure). It is likely that for this reason, the contact scattering is strongly dependent upon the substance of the placed object. Experiments show that the transition of the wave from one environment to the other may practically not occur at all and observed are only the contact scattering and generation of other types of waves (it is particularly conspicuous for transversal waves). It is likely that the disturbances of the wave occurring in the contact areas are mainly in the phase (the phase front is spatially distorted) and they are responsible for the observed contact scattering. At the moment, the research is being carried out to develop a theory adequately describing this phenomenon. We shall devote further publications to this subject. The design of the ultrasonic camera Employing the phenomenon described in the previous section we have designed a device for measuring and analysis of the signals being the result of the contact scattering of objects placed against a plastic window. The device is designed mainly for the near surface observation of the finger ridge patterns. A detailed description of our device has been presented in the aforementioned papers. An acoustic wave is sent in the direction of the surface against which an object has been placed (see Fig. 1). The signals which are scattered by the object are received by the transducer (T), which is moving along a circular trajectory whose axis is perpendicular to the contact surface (x-y). The same element can be used both as an emitter and a receiver. Alternatively, instead of one moving transducer it is possible to employ a number of fixed transducers. For the object analysis with the resolution of around 0.1 mm, it is necessary to collect scattered signal data from about 256 different angles. At the moment, our device sends in each of the 56 directions a short pulse and receives the impulse response (in the case of a finger, the signal spectrum is in the range from 4 to 16 MHz and it is dependent on the device design).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Figure 1. Schematic diagram of the device The author of this paper gave a briefing on developments in ultrasound camera. For the next few years a new area of engineering science will be established whose products are likely to create a large market in the near future. It is ultrasonic camera.

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