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Consrrucrion and Building Marerials. Vol. 11, No. 3, pp.

195-198, 1997 0 1997 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd Printed in Great Britain. All rights reserved 0950-0618/97 $17.00 + 0.00 ELSEVIER

PII: SO950-0618(97)00037-8


Dr Oral Biiyiikiiztiirk Massachusetts Accepted 31 August 1997 Institute and Hong C Rhim, MA, USA of Technology, Cambridge,

In this paper, the use of radar for non-destructive testing (NDT) of concrete is examined through radar measurements of laboratory size concrete specimens. In the measurements, the emphasis is given to the determination of the specimen thicknesses at three different microwave frequency ranges: 2 - 3.4 GHz 6 band), 3.4 - 5.8 GHz (S/C band), and 8 - 12 GHz (X band). The effect of different center frequency and bandwidth on measuring concrete thickness has been investigated. A signal processing algorithm implemented to obtain one-dimensional imagery of the specimens is briefly discussed.
0 1997 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. Keywords: radar; concrete; defects

INTRODUCTION The radar method has several advantages in non-destructive testing (NDT). These include remote sensing without contacting objects, fast measurement at a speed of light, achievement of high resolution, sensitivity to metallic objects, and safety during measurements. A radar system can be also versatile in adjusting its center frequency and bandwidth, which can optimize detection and penetration capabilities. Concrete thickness determination is a basic but important application in the use of radar for NDT of concrete systems. Detection of remaining thickness can provide evidence of deterioration of pavements, bridge decks, foundations, abutments, and retaining walls. The demand for the development of reliable and effective NDT techniques is not only for the aging but also for the newly placed infrastructure. Highway departments in the United States, traditionally, have measured the thickness of a newly placed pavement by taking cores at 305 m intervals per traffic lane to determine as to whether the job meets the specifications (Ref. 1). This destructive method is time consuming and costly. The use of an NDT device such as impact-echo which sends low-frequency stress pulse still takes time for the measurements because the device must be in contact with pavements during the measurements. The use of radar in this case, leads to speedy operation with the equipment mounted on a vehicle moving during measurements (Ref. 2, 3) 195

The results of concrete thickness measurements by three major using radar are affected parameters: center frequency and frequency bandwidth of the wave generated by radar, and electromagnetic properties of concrete. The electromagnetic properties of concrete are related to the physical condition of concrete such as moisture level, composition of concrete mix as well as electromagnetic the frequency of waves from radar. incoming

In performing radar measurements, other factors such as polarization and incident angle of the electromagnetic waves, power and dynamic range of radar, and measurement distance also affect results. In this paper, the study is focused on the three major parameters for the thickness determination of concrete. Radar measurement setup and results of one-dimensional imaging are presented. The algorithm implemented to process the raw data to obtain the imagery is briefly discussed.




Three different microwave frequency ranges of 2 - 3.4 GHz (S band), 3.4 - 5.8 GHz (S/C band), and 8 - 12 GHz (X band) are used for the investigation. A center frequency and frequency bandwidth are determined by a given frequency range. For example, at 2 - 3.4 GHz range, the center frequency is 2.7 GHz and the bandwidth is 1.4 GHz. Table 1 summarizes the frequency ranges and the center frequencies used in this study.


Radar imaging

of concrete


0. Biiytiktizturk

and H. C. Rhim

Table 1 Center frequency and bandwidth used for the study. Freq. range 2 - 3.4 GHz 3.4 - 5.8 GHz 8-12GHz Center freq. 2.7 GHz 4.6 GHz 10 GHz Bandwidth 1.4 GHz 2.4 GHz 4 GHz

waves with a given material is frequencydependent. It has been found that concrete exhibits more lossyness when it is subjected to waves of higher frequency (Ref. 5). Thus, the penetration capability of a radar system is greatly affected by the electromagnetic properties of concrete. The characteristics of concrete in its interaction with electromagnetic waves also needs to be studied (Ref. 6).

The three frequency ranges are selected to represent the use of low, medium, and high frequency in the microwave spectrum. In radar imaging, the resolution of closely spaced object features can be accomplished by narrowing the transmitted pulse width T and increasing the system yielding bandwidth a range
B such




that p,. = $

BT = 1, thus


in air.

time-bandwidth product approximating unity is inherent to the class of pulse radars in which a carrier is amplitude modulated by a pulsed waveform. Resolution is the ability to distinguish closely spaced objects. A high degree of range accuracy can be obtained by using signals with large bandwidth or high energy (Ref. 4). The range resolution which can be achieved by is determined by the following radar relationship:

Laboratory size concrete specimens are used as targets for the measurements. Concrete specimens were cast with water/cement/ sand/coarse aggregate mix ratio of 1:2.22:5.61:7.12 (by weight). Type I Portland cement was used. Coarse aggregates had a maximum size of 1.5 (38.1 mm). Concrete specimens were made using Plexiglas moulds for casting 12 x 4 x 12 (304.8 mm x 101.6 mm x 304.8 mm) specimens. After hardening, the concrete specimen was removed from the mould and placed into water for seven days for curing. The specimens were then air dried in ambient temperature and humidity. The age of the specimens at the time of the measurement was 4 weeks. The uniaxial compression strength of the specimen was 21 MPa at 28 days. A typical concrete specimen used for the measurements are shown in Fig. 1. The dimensions are selected based on numerical predictions of penetration and detection possibilities, and weight limit imposed by a Styrofoam tower as a part of radar measurement setup. Thus, the specimen dimensions of 12 x 4 x 12 (304.8 mm x 101.6 mm x 304.8 mm) are selected.


p, is the range


r is the speed

of light (3.r108m/.scc~), constant of concrete, and the wave.

E,. is the dielectric B is the bandwidth of

A combination of the parameters determines the detection and penetration capabilities of a radar system. The detection capability is related to frequency bandwidth of an incident wave, while the penetration capability is related to center frequency of the wideband incident wave. In general, as center frequency increases, a frequency bandwidth also increases for a typical radar hardware system. This results in better detectability but reduced penetration capability. As the center frequency decreases, penetration capability increases but with poor detectability. There is a tradeoff between achieving good detectability and penetration. Many aspects of electromagnetic wave propagation in a material are dependent on the electromagnetic properties of that material. Generally, the interaction of electromagnetic



Figure 1. A 12 x 4 x 12 (304.8 mm x 101.6 mm x 304.8 mm) dry concrete specimen used for the measurements at three different frequency ranges. An antenna is located at a distance.

Radar imaging

of concrete specimens:

0. Biiyiikiizturk

and H. C. Rhim


Radar measurements are made on a 12 x 4 x 12 (304.8 mm x 101.6 mm x 304.8 mm) dry concrete specimen at three different frequency ranges of 2 - 3.4,3.4 - 5.8, and 8 - 12 GHz ranges. The incident wave generated by an antenna is a stepped frequency gated continuous wave. At each frequency range, the antenna transmits waves from a starting frequency of fi to an ending frequency of fi by a frequency increment of 0.1 GHz. For example, at 2 - 3.4 GHz range, the frequency is swept from 2 GHz to 3.4 GHz by 0.1 GHz increment at different time steps. Upon radar measurements of concrete specimens, the reflected wave is collected in frequency domain by the same antenna. By processing the raw data, a one-dimensional imagery can be obtained. To generate one-dimensional imagery, the received signals in frequency from fr to f2 are multiplied by a window function and then inverse Fourier transformed. This gives a response in time domain. The response in time is related to the distance, which generates an imagery of the object as a function of distance. Measurement distance was 14.4 m for all three frequency ranges. The pulse width of the wave was 20 ns and the power of the wave was 30 dBm. The wave is transmitted with both VV (Vertical Vertical) and HH (Horizontal Horizontal) polarizations. VV and HH polarizations means sending and receiving with the electric field of the waves electromagnetic wave vertically or horizontally, respectively. The incident angle of the wave was normal to the specimen. One-dimensional images are obtained at normal incident angle. In Figures 2, 3, and 4, the imaging results at three different frequency ranges are presented for VV and HH polarizations. In Figure 2, peaks are wider than the ones in Figure 3 and Figure 4 due to the narrower bandwidth of 1.4 GHz in the low frequency compared to 2.4 in the medium and 4 GHz in high frequency ranges, respectively. Narrower bandwidths give less resolution as per Eq. (I). It is also noticed that the amplitude of the largest peak indicating reflection from the front surface, peak A, is smaller in Figure 2 than the ones in Figure 3 and Figure 4 due to less scattering in the lower frequency range. However, the reflection from the back surface is clearly captured in the 2 - 3.4 GHz measurement as peak B in Figure 2. This is due to the less attenuation through concrete thickness during the travel of the waves with less sensitivity to the edges of the specimens in the lower frequency range. Thus, the results shown in Figures 2, 3, and 4 clearly indicate that detection capability is a function of center frequency and frequency bandwidth through actual radar measurements.

It is concluded that the detection and penetration capabilities of a radar system is affected by center frequency and frequency bandwidth. For the radar measurement setup used in this study, 2 - 3.4 GHz and 3.4 d 5.8 GHz waveforms detected the thickness of the 4 (101.6 mm) thick dry concrete specimen. The waveforms with 8 - 12 GHz did not detect the same thickness due to the increased lossyness in that high frequency range.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This work was supported by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, Mississippi through Contract No. DACW39-92-K-0029. The authors would like to thank Dr. Tony C. Liu, Mr. Mitch Alexander, and Mr. Kenneth Saucier for the support provided.

REFERENCES Impact-Echo Device: A New Tool for Nondestructive Measurement of Pavement Thickness, Focus, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), U.S. Department of Transportation, July 1994. 2. Chung, T., Carter, CR., Masliwec, T., and Manning, D.G., Impulse Radar Evaluation of Asphalt-Covered Bridge Decks, IEEE
Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems, Vol. 28, No. 1, pp 125-137, January


1992. SlatonBarker, A.B. and Wallace, J.W., Nondestructive Testing of Bridge Decks Using Dual Frequency Radar, Proceedings of
the International Conference on Nondestructive Testing of Concrete irr the Infrastructure, pp 114-132, Society for

Experimental Mechanics, Dearborn, Michigan, June 9 -11, 1993. 4. Skolnik, M.I., Radar Handbook, McGraw-Hill Co., New York, pp. 4-6,197O. Evaluation of 5. Rhim, H.C., Nondestructive Concrete Using Wideband Microwave Techniques, Ph.D. Thesis, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, February 1995. 6. Biiyiikbztiirk, Electromagnetic Nondestructive
International Testing of

0. and Rhim, H.C., Properties of Concrete for Testing, Proceedings of the

on Nondestructive the Infrastructure,

Conference Concrete in

Society for Experimental Mechanics, Dearborn, Michigan, pp. 83-92, June 9 -11, 1993.


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-70 I -0 8




0 Range (m)






2. One-dimensional

image of a 12 x 4 x 12 (304.8 mm x 101.6 mm x 304.8 mm) dry concrete block at 2 to 3.4 GHz.

-60 t
-70 -0

1 a


-0 6

-0 4


0 Range(m)





3. One-dimensional

image of a 12 x 4 x 12 (304.8 mm x 101.6 mm x 304.8 mm) dry concrete block at 3.4 to 5.8 GHz.

-701 -0.6



-0.2 0 Range (m) 0.2 04 0.6



4. One-dimensional

image of a 12 x 4 x 12 (304.8 mm x 101.6 mm x 304.8 mm) dry concrete block at 8 to 12 GHz.