Article Article
Laser Ultrasonics for Remote Detection of Stress Corrosion Cracking in Harsh Environments

Structural components susceptible to degradation in harsh environments with limited accessibility require distinctive nondestructive testing methods. Rayleigh surface waves generated and received using laser ultrasonics are capable of characterizing surface degradation and are most suitable for robotic delivery systems because of the noncontact transduction. Stress corrosion cracking in austenitic stainless steel is the primary concern in the present research. Specifically, the stainless steel canisters used within dry storage casks for spent nuclear fuel provide a challenging application due to the elevated temperature (up to 350oF) and gamma radiation (up to 27 krad/hr) environment as well as the extremely limited access. Nondestructive inspection provides information on the structural integrity of the canister that could be used to re-certify the dry storage facility. In addition to environment and access challenges, the generation of surface waves having high directivity and laser interferometer based reception of wave motion from a rough surface are addressed in this research. A Q-switched Nd:YAG pulsed laser is used in conjunction with different slit curves in order to generate different wavefront patterns. The laser interferometer receives both the incident wave and the wave reflected by any surface cracks. The beam spreading patterns corresponding to each type of slit mask are studied and the quality of b-scan images are compared. It is concluded that an inward curved slit mask provides clearer images with enhanced contrast compared with a single line slit mask.


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