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Ultrasonics 38 (2000) 131134 www.elsevier.

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Ultrasonic non-destructive testing of pieces of complex geometry with a exible phased array transducer
Sylvain Chatillon a, *, Gerard Cattiaux a, Marc Serre b, Olivier Roy b
a Institut de Protection et Surete Nucleaire, DES/SAMS, 92265 Fontenay-aux-Roses Cedex, France b Commissariat a lEnergie Atomique, CEREM, CEA-Saclay, Bat. 611, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette cedex, France `

Abstract Ultrasonic non-destructive testing of components of complex geometry in the nuclear industry faces several diculties: sensitivity variations due to unmatched contact, inaccurate localization of defects due to variations of transducer orientation, and uncovered area of the component. To improve the performances of such testing and defect characterization, we propose a new concept of ultrasonic contact phased array transducer. The phased array transducer has a exible radiating surface able to t the actual surface of the piece to optimize the contact and thus the sensitivity of the test. To control the transmitted eld, and therefore to improve the defect characterization, a delay law optimizing algorithm is developed. To assess the capability of such a transducer, the Champ-Sons model, developed at the French Atomic Energy Commission for predicting eld radiated by arbitrary transducers into pieces, has to be extended to sources directly in contact with pieces of complex geometry. The good behavior of this new type of probe predicted by computations is experimentally validated with a jointed transducer positioned on pieces of various proles. 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Complex geometry components; Delay law optimization; Flexible phased array transducer; US eld modeling

1. Introduction The primary and secondary cooling systems of French pressurized water reactors comprise many welding components with complex geometry: elbows, welding with a rough prole, and nozzles. In service inspections of such components performed with conventional ultrasonic ( US) contact transducers present limited performances. First, variations in sensitivity, due to unmatched contact on depressions or irregular surface are observed, resulting in poor detection performances. In addition, the beam orientation transmitted through complex interfaces cannot be totally controlled because of the disorientations suered by the transducer during its displacement, and the detected defect cannot be correctly characterized. Finally, the geometry of certain components such as nozzles disturbs the displacement of the transducer, resulting in an uncovered scan area. To overcome these diculties, a new concept of phased array contact transducer is proposed. Firstly,
* Corresponding author. Tel.: +33-1-69-08-68-07; fax: +33-1-69-08-75-97. E-mail address: sylvain.chatillon@cea.fr (S. Chatillon)

the radiating surface is exible to optimize the contact, and thus the sensitivity, of the testing. Secondly, to improve the characterization of detected defects, the characteristics of the transmitted beam have to be controlled and preserved during the scanning, particularly its actual orientation and focal depth. To this aim, we propose an algorithm that optimizes the delay law. This computation needs the actual position of the elements, so a specic instrumentation is associated with the transducer to measure its radiating surface distortions. In a rst part, the model used to simulate the eld transmitted by a exible phased array contact transducer is presented. Further, a delay law optimizing algorithm is proposed to control the transmitted beam. Finally, experimental results obtained with a jointed contact transducer are proposed to validate its acoustical performances and the optimizing algorithm.

2. Simulation of the US eld The French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), has developed the Champ-Sons model, which predicts the

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eld transmitted by arbitrary transducers (monolithic and phased array, immersed and wedge coupled) through complex interfaces. This model, implemented in the Civa software, has been experimentally validated for several congurations of immersed inspection [1] and compared to other approximate or exact models [2]. To deal with directly coupled contact transducers, we have to simulate the displacement generated in a solid by an acoustical source applied directly onto its surface. The principle of the selected model [3] is based on the reciprocity theorem [4]. The displacement eld produced by an arbitrary transducer is estimated by numerically integrating this elementary solution on the eective radiating surface. This model, implemented in the Champs-Sons software, makes it possible to simulate the eld transmitted by a exible phased array transducer applied on any arbitrary pieces, taking into account the distortion of its radiating surface.

3. Delay law optimization The focusing process with phased array is usually as follows: the geometrical delay law is computed to ensure constructive interferences at the geometrical focusing point dened by the depth and deection angle. However, signicant dierences between acoustical focusing characteristics, measured on the transmitted beam, and geometrical characteristics are observed. This behavior, well known in the phased array techniques, results from the limited aperture of the transducer [5]. To understand and, further, to take into account these eects, a simplied geometrical model is proposed. The geometrical focusing point is dened by the focal depth, P, and the deection angle, a. For a contact transducer radiating in an homogeneous media, the associated delay law is a spherical cupola centered on the focal point (Fig. 1). The angular aperture observed from the focal point is dened by the rays coming from the transducer edges. In a rst approximation, it can be considered that the beam is focused along the bisector

of this aperture. Due to the deection angle, this axis is dierent from that coming from the center of the transducer. Its orientation, denoted b, is always lower than the deection angle, a. According to this geometrical observation, a model is proposed to quickly predict the acoustic focal characteristics of the beam transmitted by a contact phased array transducer. It entails dening an equivalent monolithic transducer, taking into account the applied delay law: its radiating prole in the incidence plane is a semicircle, centered on the focal point, extending in the angular aperture. The beam orientation is given by that of the symmetry-axis of the equivalent transducer. The focal position is estimated by computing the amplitude distribution of the eld transmitted along this axis. The performances of this model are estimated for a 4820 mm linear phased array transducer generating 2.0 MHz transient waves. Fig. 2 compares the computed and expected (reference) focal characteristics for a 50 mm focal depth and ve deection angles, 0, 15, 30, 45 and 60. The results given by this model show very good agreements with the focal characteristics obtained by Champ-Sons. This model is used in an iterative process to optimize the delay law to control the beam orientation. The method involves searching the focusing point, at the depth of interest, so that the bisector of the angular aperture has the desired orientation. The result is an increase in deection angle. This algorithm is fast enough to be used in a real-time process.

Fig. 1. Geometrical modeling of the focusing process.

Fig. 2. Acoustic focal characteristics estimated by the geometrical model and Champ-Sons.

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4. Results These experiments are performed using the F.A.U.S.T. ( Focusing Adaptive UltraSonic Tomography) system [68]. The exible transducer is composed of 24 rigid elementary ultrasonic transducers (elements), mechanically assembled with cables and helical springs. The design of each elements ensures distortions of the radiating surface with a 15 mm local curvature radius (see Fig. 3). The transmitted eld is measured using a wide-band contact probe receiver with a central frequency of 2.25 MHz. 4.1. Measurements in a static mode The prole of the steel block consists of three parts: a concave part and a convex part with a 50 mm radius curvature and a concave/convex part with a 25 mm radius curvature. On the opposite face, four steps, respectively located at 20, 30, 40 and 50 mm from the reference plane, allow measurements of the transmitted eld. For each step, the eld resulting from geometrical and optimized delay laws is measured for three deection angles (0, 45 and 60). The measurements obtained through the complex interfaces are compared to those obtained through the plane interface in order to estimate how the eects caused by the distortion of the radiating surface on the transmitted beam are dealt with. Examples are shown in Figs. 4 and 5 for a 40 mm depth focusing with a 45 deection angle for the most unfavorable case: the concave/convex interface. The grating lobe level and the focal width are reported on the echodynamic. First, a good agreement between experimental and simulated results is observed. In all the studied congurations (prole, depth, deection angle), the characteristics of the focal area (position, orientation, width, amplitude) are well predicted. Further, compared to a plane interface, the distortions of the
Fig. 4. Field transmitted at 40 mm through a plane interface for a 40 mm/45 focusing.

Fig. 5. Field transmitted through a concave/convex interface for a 40 mm/45 focusing.

transmitted focal beam remain acceptable although signicant distortions are suered by the radiating surface. The maximal increase of the focal width is 40%, the maximal loss in sensitivity is 3 dB, and the maximal increase of the grating lobe level is 3 dB. In all cases, the actual focal beam orientation is well predicted by the simplied geometrical model. The average discrepancy is less than 2. 4.2. Measurements in a dynamic mode In order to assess the acoustic capabilities of the jointed transducer during the scanning of an irregular surface, the transmitted eld is measured for ve positions of the transducer on a test piece with a 20 mm local curvature radius surface depression. For each position, separated by 10.0 mm, we measure the focal width, the focal amplitude, the beam orientation and the grating lobe level. Two depths, 30 and 50 mm, and two orientations, 45 and 60 , are studied. Fig. 6 repre-

Fig. 3. Distortion of the jointed transducer with a 15 mm local curvature radius.

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the geometrical aberrations and transmit a focal beam with controlled and homogeneous characteristics.

5. Conclusion We propose a new concept of phased array contact transducer designed to optimize the inspection of complex geometry components. Its radiating surface is exible to optimize the contact along degraded or complex proles. An algorithm is proposed to determine, in a fast way, the delay law ensuring the control of the transmitted focused beam characteristics. Experimental results obtained in transmission with a jointed transducer validate the good behavior predicted by simulated data. The use of the delay law optimizing algorithm ensures the transmission of an homogeneous and controlled beam during the transducer displacement along complex geometry. Experiments in pulse-echo mode are in progress to estimate the defect detection and characterization performances of this method.
Fig. 6. Fields transmitted at 30 mm for a 30 mm/45 focusing in ve dierent positions.

References
[1] M. El Amrani, P. Calmon, O. Roy, D. Royer, O. Casula, in: D.O. Thompson, D.E. Chimenti ( Eds.), Rev. of Prog. in QNDE Vol. 14A (1995) 1075. [2] P. Calmon, A. Lhemery, J. Nadal, in: D.O. Thompson, D.E. Chimenti (Eds.), Rev. of Prog. in QNDE Vol. 15A (1996) 1019. [3] A. Lhemery, R. Stacey, in: D.O. Thompson, D.E. Chimenti ( Eds.), Rev. of Prog. in QNDE Vol. 14 (1995) 997. [4] K. Aki, P.G. Richard, 1980. [5] M. El Amrani, Etude de dierentes methodes de focalisation ultra sonore appliquees au controle non destructif, Ph.D. thesis, Uni versite Paris 7, 1996. [6 ] S. Mahaut, G. Cattiaux, O. Roy, P.H. Benoist, Proc. 14th Int. Conf. NDE in the Nuclear and Pressure Vessel Ind, 1996. [7] S. Mahaut, G. Cattiaux, O. Roy, P.H. Benoist, in: D.O. Thompson, D.E. Chimenti (Eds.), Rev. of Prog. in QNDE Vol. 16B (1997) 2085. [8] O. Roy, S. Mahaut, M. Serre, in: D.O. Thompson, D.E. Chimenti ( Eds.), Rev. of Prog. in QNDE Vol. 17, (1998).

sents the elds transmitted at 30 mm for a 30 mm depth focusing at 45. The focal beam amplitude is referred to that obtained through the plane interface. At each position, the characteristics of the focal beam transmitted are very close to those obtained through the plane interface. The orientation of the transmitted beam is nearly constant along the transducer displacement (the maximal variations are less than 2). The variations in sensitivity are less than 2 dB, the focal width is nearly constant (even narrower at the position situated 10 mm before the depression center) and no signicant increase in grating lobe level is observed ( less than 2 dB). These results show the ability of the jointed transducer associated with the delay law optimization algorithm to correct