Home - Education Resources - NDT Course Material - Ultrasound

Introduction to Ultrasonic Testing

Basic Principles
Present State
Future Direction

Physics of Ultrasound
Wave Propagation
Modes of Sound Waves
Properties of Plane Waves
Wavelength/Flaw Detection
Elastic Properties of Solids

Acoustic Impedance
Refraction & Snell's Law
Mode Conversion
Signal-to-noise Ratio
Wave Interference

Equipment & Transducers
Piezoelectric Transducers
Characteristics of PT
Radiated Fields
Transducer Beam Spread
Transducer Types
Transducer Testing I
Transducer Testing II
Transducer Modeling
Tone Burst Generators
Function Generators
Impedance Matching
Data Presentation
Error Analysis

Measurement Techniques
Normal Beam Inspection
Angle Beams I
Angle Beams II
Crack Tip Diffraction
Automated Scanning
Velocity Measurements
Measuring Attenuation
Spread Spectrum
Signal Processing
Flaw Reconstruction

Calibration Methods
Calibration Methods
DAC Curves
Curvature Correction
Thompson-Gray Model
Grain Noise Modeling

Selected Applications
Rail Inspection

Reference Material
UT Material Properties


Attenuation Measurements

Ultrasonic wave propagation is influenced by the microstructure of the material through which it propagates. The velocity of the ultrasonic waves is influenced by the elastic moduli and the density of the material, which in turn are mainly governed by the amount of various phases present and the damage in the material. Ultrasonic attenuation, which is the sum of the absorption and the scattering, is mainly dependent upon the damping capacity and scattering from the grain boundary in the material. However, to fully characterize the attenuation required knowledge of a large number of thermo-physical parameters that in practice are hard to quantify.

Relative measurements such as the change of attenuation and simple qualitative tests are easier to make than absolute measure. Relative attenuation measurements can be made by examining the exponential decay of multiple back surface reflections. However, significant variations in microstructural characteristics and mechanical properties often produce only a relatively small change in wave velocity and attenuation.

Absolute measurements of attenuation are very difficult to obtain because the echo amplitude depends on factors in addition to amplitude. The most common method used to get quantitative results is to use an ultrasonic source and detector transducer separated by a known distance. By varying the separation distance, the attenuation can be measured from the changes in the amplitude. To get accurate results, the influence of coupling conditions must be carefully addressed. To overcome the problems related to conventional ultrasonic attenuation measurements, ultrasonic spectral parameters for frequency-dependent attenuation measurements, which are independent from coupling conditions are also used. For example, the ratio of the amplitudes of higher frequency peak to the lower frequency peak, has been used for microstructural characterization of some materials.