Interest in ultrasonic guided wave based Structural Health Monitoring and a nondestructive evaluation system has grown in recent years, especially to monitor thin plate like structures. However, an effective signal processing and imaging algorithms are essential to achieve necessary performance. This paper describes wave rich laser ultrasonic wavenumber imaging method (UWI) method for damage visualization. Ultrasonic waves were generated by a scanning laser source and acquired using a capacitance air coupled transducer (ACT). However, the inherent existence of multiple Lamb wave modes in signal makes it harder for effective damage evaluation. This is further complicated if the reflections from the boundaries are present in the signal. The use of an ACT with an in-line programmable filter helps to isolate lower order Lamb wave modes (Ao and So), since the dispersive waves radiate at certain angle from the specimen governed by Snell’s law. By comparing the results from the ultrasonic wavefield image obtained using the ACT and a PZT contact sensor under the same experimental condition, mode isolation phenomena was verified.
Such isolated wave mode was processed using a proposed wave rich UWI algorithm where a wave rich field was generated by superposing the wavefields. The mode filtered measurements were arranged in 3D space-time domain where each slice in time domain represents 2D wavefield image. A 2D Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) was applied to this spatial information in time domain which transformed it to a wavenumber domain. A wavenumber filter is then applied and inverse Fourier transformed to get back to the wavenumber filtered measurement. However, instead of applying filter to every 2D slice in time domain, certain frames were selected and merged to replicate wave propagation in total scan-area. This wave rich field not only saves time and space but also reduce computational complexity during post-processing. This method was tested successfully in an aluminum plate with milled area damage and a composite fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) wing skin with two impact damages.