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

Anthony Gachagan, Gordon Hayward, Alistair McNab, P. Reynolds, Stephen Pierce, WR Philp, Brian Culshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-81
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1999
EventI - , United Kingdom
Duration: 19 Mar 2022 → …


  • generation
  • reception
  • ultrasonic guided waves
  • composite plates
  • conformable piezoelectric transmitters
  • optical-fiber detectors
  • contact
  • sensors
  • nondestructive evaluation
  • lamb waves
  • transducers

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