Optical breakdown acoustics : transduction and sensing underwater
Author(s)Athanassiadis, Athanasios G.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Mechanical Engineering.
Douglas P. Hart.
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In the sea, infrastructures such as ships, pipelines, and wind turbines are exposed to harsh conditions that can wear down the structures through wave loading and corrosion. Because of these wear mechanisms, maritime structures require regular inspections to identify early signs of damage or fatigue. Currently, inspections are performed visually or with contact acoustic transducers, often by a human diver. However, these methods are slow and costly, and can be hindered by surface irregularities like biofouling. Therefore, new sensing techniques are needed to meet the rising demand for offshore infrastructure monitoring. In this thesis, I develop optical breakdown as an acoustic source for non-contact measurements of underwater structures. Optical breakdown occurs when a high-power laser is focused to a small spot, causing nonlinear interactions between the light and water. A compact plasma forms at the focus and expands explosively, radiating a loud, broadband pressure wave.Since this source is compact, laser-controlled and broadband, it provides unique sensing capabilities that overcome challenges faced by traditional transducers. First, I demonstrate how the breakdown source can be used to remotely measure the internal properties of submerged plates. The source is used to excite leaky Lamb waves in the plates, and broadband elastic dispersion spectra are measured using hydrophones in the water. The dispersion spectra are used to calculate the thicknesses and sound speeds in aluminum, steel, bronze and glass plates of varying thickness. Second, I characterize how the source can be controlled and scaled up by combining acoustic measurements with high-speed images of the breakdown plasma. In general, breakdown produces a loud (>100kPa at 10cm), ultra-broadband (5kHz-5MHz) source, whose characteristics depend on measurement orientation and laser properties.This transduction behavior is explained by modeling the breakdown plasma as an array of laser-driven explosions. When the laser is tightly focused, the plasma is compact, producing a loud and omnidirectional signal. However, for weak focusing and high energies, the plasma lengthens and becomes erratic, producing a weaker signal with less consistent behavior. These results reveal design challenges, tradeoffs and opportunities when adapting the breakdown source for dierent applications.
This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Thesis: Ph. D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Mechanical Engineering, 2019Cataloged from student-submitted PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 191-199).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Mechanical Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology