Reverse time migration: introducing a new imaging technique for ultrasonic measurements in civil engineering
Ultrasonic echo testing is widely used in non-destructive testing in civil engineering to investigate concrete structures, to measure thickness, and to locate and characterise built-in components or inhomogeneities. Currently, synthetic aperture focusing techniques are mostly used for imaging. These algorithms are highly developed but have some limitations. For example, it is not possible to image the lower boundary of built-in components like tendon ducts or vertical reflectors. We adopted reverse time migration for non-destructive testing in civil engineering in order to improve the imaging of complicated structures in concrete. By using the entire wavefield, including waves reflected more than once, there are fewer limitations compared to synthetic aperture focusing technique algorithms. As a drawback, the required computation is significantly higher than that for the techniques currently used. Simulations for polyamide and concrete structures showed the potential for non-destructive testing. The simulations were followed by experiments at a polyamide specimen. Here, having acquired almost noise-free measurement data to test the algorithm, we were able to determine the shape and size of boreholes with sufficient accuracy. After these successful tests, we performed experiments at a reinforced concrete foundation slab. We obtained information from the data by reverse time migration, which was not accessible by traditional imaging. The imaging of the location and structure of the lower boundary of the concrete foundation slab was improved. Furthermore, vertical reflectors inside the slab were imaged clearly, and more flaws were found. It has been shown that reverse time migration is a step forward in ultrasonic testing in civil engineering.