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Detection of Discontinuities in Carbon-carbon Composites using X-ray Compton Backscatter Radiography: Radiography by Selective Detection

There has been an increase in the use of nondestructive testing techniques to detect discontinuities in carbon-carbon (C/C) composite materials. A type of X-ray Compton backscatter radiography, radiography by selective detection (RSD) is a proven technology that has been successfully tested on a wide variety of materials and applications. For example, RSD has been used for inspection of the spray-on foam insulation on the external tank of the space shuttle’s 2005 return to flight. This paper evaluates the effectiveness of RSD to identify discontinuities on C/C composites. Experimental results obtained in different simulated discontinuity conditions are reported. These results are compared with findings given by infrared thermography. The RSD technique is capable of evaluating discontinuities in C/C composite materials with results comparable to, or better than, infrared thermography. With some application specific optimization, the RSD technique will be efficient and easy to implement. Additionally, rapid assessment of detecting discontinuities in C/C materials can be achieved in manufacturing process quality control systems.

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