Detection of thermal fatigue in composites by second harmonic Lamb waves

Weibin Li*, Younho Cho, Jan D. Achenbach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

183 Scopus citations


Composite materials which are widely used in the aerospace industry, are usually subjected to frequent variation of temperature. Thermal cyclic loading may induce material degradation. Considering the long-term service of aircraft composites and the importance of safety in the aircraft industry, even a little damage that may be accumulative via thermal fatigue is often of great concern. Therefore, there is a demand to develop non-destructive approaches to evaluate thermal fatigue damage in an early stage. Due to the sensitivity of acoustic nonlinearity to micro-damage, the nonlinear ultrasonic technique has been explored as a promising tool for early detection of micro-damage. This paper investigates an experimental scheme for characterizing thermal fatigue damage in composite laminates using second harmonic Lamb waves. The present results show a monotonic increase of acoustic nonlinearity with respect to thermal fatigue cycles. The experimental observation of the correlation between the acoustic nonlinearity and thermal fatigue cycles in carbon/epoxy laminates verifies that nonlinear Lamb waves can be used to assess thermal fatigue damage rendering improved sensitivity over conventional linear feature based non-destructive evaluation techniques. Velocity and attenuation based ultrasonic studies are carried out for comparison with the nonlinear ultrasonic approach and it is found that nonlinear acoustic parameters are more promising indicators of thermal fatigue damage than linear ones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number085019
JournalSmart Materials and Structures
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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