Frequency steerable acoustic transducers
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Structural health monitoring (SHM) is an active research area devoted to the assessment of the structural integrity of critical components of aerospace, civil and mechanical systems. Guided wave methods have been proposed for SHM of plate-like structures using permanently attached piezoelectric transducers, which generate and sense waves to evaluate the presence of damage. Effective interrogation of structural health is often facilitated by sensors and actuators with the ability to perform directional scanning. In this research, the novel class of Frequency Steerable Acoustic Transducers (FSATs) is proposed for directional generation/sensing of guided waves. The FSATs are characterized by a spatial arrangement of the piezoelectric material which leads to frequency-dependent directionality. The resulting FSATs can be employed both for directional sensing and generation of guided waves, without relying on phasing and control of a large number of channels. Because there is no need for individual control of transducer elements, hardware and power requirements are drastically reduced so that cost and hardware limitations of traditional phased arrays can be partially overcome. The FSATs can be also good candidates for remote sensing and actuation applications, due to their hardware simplicity and robustness. Validation of the proposed concepts first employs numerical methods. Next, the prototyping of the FSATs allows an experimental investigation confirming the analytical and numerical predictions. Imaging algorithm based on frequency warping is also proposed to enhance results representation.