Open Access
Gao, Huidong
Graduate Program:
Engineering Science and Mechanics
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
February 16, 2007
Committee Members:
  • Joseph Lawrence Rose, Committee Chair
  • Bernhard R Tittmann, Committee Member
  • Clifford Jesse Lissenden Iii, Committee Member
  • Charles E Bakis, Committee Member
  • Qiming Zhang, Committee Member
  • FEM
  • structural health monitoring
  • nondestructive evaluation
  • composite material
  • guided wave
  • ultrasonics
  • SAFE
  • global matrix method
  • normal mode expansion
The ultrasonic guided wave based method is very promising for structural health monitoring of aging and modern aircraft. An understanding of wave mechanics becomes very critical for exploring the potential of this technology. However, the guided wave mechanics in complex structures, especially composite materials, are very challenging due to the nature of multi-layer, anisotropic, and viscoelastic behavior. The purpose of this thesis is to overcome the challenges and potentially take advantage of the complex wave mechanics for advanced sensor design and signal analysis. Guided wave mechanics is studied in three aspects, namely wave propagation, excitation, and damage sensing. A 16 layer quasi-isotropic composite with a [(0/45/90/-45)s]2 lay up sequence is used in our study. First, a hybrid semi-analytical finite element (SAFE) and global matrix method (GMM) is used to simulate guided wave propagation in composites. Fast and accurate simulation is achieved by using SAFE for dispersion curve generation and GMM for wave structure calculation. Secondly, the normal mode expansion (NME) technique is used for the first time to study the wave excitation characteristics in laminated composites. A clear and simple definition of wave excitability is put forward as a result of NME analysis. Source influence for guided wave excitation is plotted as amplitude on a frequency and phase velocity spectrum. This spectrum also provides a guideline for transducer design in guided wave excitation. The ultrasonic guided wave excitation characteristics in viscoelastic media are also studied for the first time using a modified normal mode expansion technique. Thirdly, a simple physically based feature is developed to estimate the guided wave sensitivity to damage in composites. Finally, a fuzzy logic decision program is developed to perform mode selection through a quantitative evaluation of the wave propagation, excitation and sensitivity features. Numerical simulation algorithms are validated with both finite element analyses and laboratory experiments. For the quasi-isotropic composite, it is found that the ultrasonic wave propagation characteristics are not always quasi-isotropic. The directional dependence is very significant at high frequency and higher order wave modes. Mode separation between Rayleigh-Lamb type and Shear Horizontal type guided waves is not possible. In addition, guided wave modes along one dispersion curve line could have a significant difference in wave structure. Therefore, instead of using traditional symmetric, antisymmetric, and SH notation, a new notation is used to identify the dispersion curves in a numerical order. Wave modes with a skew angle larger than 30 degrees can exist in a quasi-isotropic composite plate, which is validated by both FEM and experiment. At low frequency, the first wave mode has higher sensitivity than that of the third wave mode. However, the attenuation of the first wave mode is higher than that of the third wave mode. The mode selection trade-offs are evaluated and recommendations are provided for guided waves used in long range structural health monitoring.