Available Technology

Advanced Ultrasonic Device with In-Situ Height Adjustment for Improved Flaw Detection

Ultrasonic testing is a nondestructive inspection (NDI) technique that utilizes ultra-high frequency sound to detect flaws within a part of interest. A fluid (e.g. water or gel) is used to achieve high coupling between the transducer and part under inspection. Typical probe holders (i.e. shoes) hold the ultrasonic probe at a fixed distance from the inspected part, which can lead to signals that are masked by harmonics and undesirable reflections in the part. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have developed an adjustable height ultrasonic testing device that overcomes the limitations of fixed-height probes and enables in situ adjustment of coupling fluid height to eliminate the presence of confounding signals and produce improved flaw detection. The device is compatible with a focused ultrasonic transducer developed at Sandia or commercial off-the-shelf transducers.

Patent Abstract: 

Traditional probe shoes are open ended, leading to the spillage of large amounts of coupling fluid. The Sandia designed shoes minimize spillage and leakage through the use of a permeable membrane and sealing gasket as well as a vacuum system to remove excess coupling fluid.

Adjustable depth of focus for improved flaw detection-Can be used to detect flaws on structures of varying thickness-Ideal for use with high attenuation structures and thick or varying thicknesses of laminates-Minimal coupling fluid spillage; can be used with water to remove residue from coupling fluid

Aircraft - Automotive - Wind Turbines - Military - Civil structures - Oil and gas

Patent Number: 
US Pat. No. 9,121,817, US Pat. No. 8,371,173, US Pat. No. 6,234,025
Internal Laboratory Ref #: 
SD #12071; SD#10649; SD#6167
Patent Status: 
Patent Issue Date: 
November 18, 2015
Lab Representatives
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