This lecture took place on Wednesday 5 December 2012
Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) using ultrasonic waves has been used for finding defects in engineering components and structures for almost a century. Professor Wilcox will begin by outlining the basic principles of ultrasonic NDT and explain why it continues to grow in popularity over other testing methods. The remainder of the lecture will show, with practical demonstrations, why ultrasonic NDT remains a vibrant area of international research activity driven both by technology 'push' and application 'pull'. Improved instrumentation and greater computational power are examples of the former that are facilitating more sophisticated NDT measurements. To illustrate this, Professor Wilcox will demonstrate how ultrasonic arrays can be used to address previously insoluble inspection problems and improve defect detection. An example of application pull is the increasing industrial desire for NDT systems that are permanently integrated into structures. Such systems potentially enable more efficient operation as on-line inspections can be performed without expensive shutdowns or even direct human access. In this case, advances in electronics, communications and energy storage already provide much of the necessary enabling technology, but the challenge is how to make the NDT measurements and interpret the results.
Professor WIlcox will demonstrate some of the approaches being researched including guided ultrasonic waves and wireless inductively-coupled sensors and also show some ways in which ultrasound may in the future be used to aid the actual manufacture of new types of material.