Multi-layered composite structures manufactured with honeycomb, foam or balsa wood cores are finding increasing utility in a variety of aerospace, transportation, and infrastructure applications. Due to the low conductivity and inhomogeneity associated with these composites standard nondestructive testing (NDT) methods are not always capable of inspecting their interior for various defects caused during the manufacturing process or as a result of in-service loading. On the contrary, microwave and millimeter wave NDT methods are well-suited for inspecting these structures since signals at these frequencies readily penetrate through these structures and reflect from different interior boundaries revealing the presence of a wide range of defects such as disbond, delamination, moisture and oil intrusion, impact damage, etc. Millimeter wave frequency spectrum spans 30 GHz - 300 GHz with corresponding wavelengths of 10 - 1 mm. Due to the inherent short wavelengths at these frequencies, one can produce high spatial resolution images of these composites either using real-antenna focused or synthetic-aperture focused methods. In addition, incorporation of swept-frequency in the latter method (i.e., holography) results in high-resolution three-dimensional images. This paper presents the basic steps behind producing such images at millimeter wave frequencies and the results of two honeycomb composite panels are demonstrated at Q-band (33-50 GHz). In addition, these results are compared to previous results using X-ray computed tomography.
Instrumentation and Photography
34th Quantitative Nondestructive Evaluation Conference (QNDE); Jul 22, 2007 - Jul 27, 2007; Golden, CO; United States