The Technical Notes section is designed to provide a brief overview of theultrasonic principles important to transducer application and design. TheTechnical Notes are organized in the following sections:
1. Basic Ultrasonic Principles2. Advanced definitions and formulas3. Design characteristics of transducers4. Transducer specific principles5. Transducer excitation guidelines6. Cables
1. BASIC ULTRASONIC PRINCIPLES
a. What is Ultrasound?
Sound generated above the human hearing range (typically 20 kHz) is calledultrasound. However, the frequency range normally employed in ultrasonicnondestructive testing and thickness gaging is 100 kHz to 50 MHz. Althoughultrasound behaves in a similar manner to audible sound, it has a muchshorter wavelength. This means it can be reflected off very small surfacessuch as defects inside materials. It is this property that makes ultrasounduseful for nondestructive testing of materials.The Acoustic Spectrum in Figure (1) breaks down sound into 3 ranges of frequencies. The Ultrasonic Range is then broken down further into 3 subsections.
b. Frequency, Period and Wavelength
Ultrasonic vibrations travel in the form of a wave, similar to the waylight travels. However, unlike light waves, which can travel in a vacuum(empty space), ultrasound requires an elastic medium such as a liquid or asolid. Shown in Figure (2) are the basic parameters of a continuous wave(cw). These parameters include the wavelength (
) and the period (T) of acomplete cycle.
The number of cycles completed in one second is called frequency (f) and ismeasured in Hertz (Hz), some examples follow;• 1 cycle/second= 1Hz• 1000 cycles/second= 1kHz• 1,000,000 cycles/second= 1MHzThe time required to complete a full cycle is the period (T), measured inseconds. The relation between frequency and period in a continuous wave isgiven in Equation (1).Eqn. 1
c. Velocity of Ultrasound and Wavelength
The velocity of ultrasound (c) in a perfectly elastic material at a giventemperature and pressure is constant. The relation between c, f,
and T isgiven by Equations (2) and (3):Eqn. 2 Eqn. 3
= Wavelengthc = Material Sound Velocityf = FrequencyT = Period of timeTable 1 on page 48 lists the longitudinal and shear wave velocities of materials that are commonly tested with ultrasonics.
d. Wave Propagation and Particle Motion
The most common methods of ultrasonic examination utilize eitherlongitudinal waves or shear waves. Other forms of sound propagation exist,including surface waves and Lamb waves.• The longitudinal wave is a compressional wave in which the particlemotion is in the same direction as the propagation of the wave.• The shear wave is a wave motion in which the particle motion isperpendicular to the direction of the propagation.• Surface (Rayleigh) waves have an elliptical particle motionand travel across the surface of a material. Their velocity isapproximately 90% of the shear wave velocity of the materialand their depth of penetration is approximately equal to onewavelength.• Plate (Lamb) waves have a complex vibration occurring inmaterials where thickness is less than the wavelength of ultrasoundintroduced into it.Figure (3) provides an illustration of the particle motion versus the directionof wave propagation for longitudinal waves and shear waves.
e. Applying Ultrasound
Ultrasonic nondestructive testing introduces high frequency sound wavesinto a test object to obtain information about the object without alteringor damaging it in any way. Two basic quantities are measured in ultrasonictesting; they are time of flight or the amount of time for the sound to travelthrough the sample, and amplitude of received signal. Based on velocity andround trip time of flight through the material the material, thickness can becalculated as follows:Eqn. 4T = Material Thicknessc = Material Sound Velocityt = Time of Flight
Longitudinal WaveShear WaveDirection of Wave PropagationDirection of Wave PropagationDirection of Particle MotionDirection of Particle Motion