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Simulation of laser generated ultrasound with application to defect detection


Laser generated ultrasound holds substantial promise for use as a tool for defect detection in remote inspection thanks to its ability to produce frequencies in the MHz range, enabling fine spatial resolution of defects. Despite the potential impact of laser generated ultrasound in many areas of science and industry, robust tools for studying the phenomenon are lacking and thus limit the design and optimization of non-destructive testing and evaluation techniques. The laser generated ultrasound propagation in complex structures is an intricate phenomenon and is extremely hard to analyze. Only simple geometries can be studied analytically. Numerical techniques found in the literature have proved to be limited in their applicability, by the frequencies in the MHz range and very short wavelengths. The objective of this research is to prove that by using an explicit integration rule together with diagonal element mass matrices, instead of the almost universally adopted implicit integration rule to integrate the equations of motion in a dynamic analysis, it is possible to efficiently and accurately solve ultrasound wave propagation problems with frequencies in the MHz range travelling in relatively large bodies. Presented results on NDE testing of rails demonstrate that the proposed FE technique can provide a valuable tool for studying the laser generated ultrasound propagation.