Characterization of Piezoelectric Stack Actuators for Vibrothermography

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Vaddi, Jyani Somayajulu
Reusser, Ricky
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Holland, Stephen
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Aerospace Engineering

The Department of Aerospace Engineering seeks to instruct the design, analysis, testing, and operation of vehicles which operate in air, water, or space, including studies of aerodynamics, structure mechanics, propulsion, and the like.

The Department of Aerospace Engineering was organized as the Department of Aeronautical Engineering in 1942. Its name was changed to the Department of Aerospace Engineering in 1961. In 1990, the department absorbed the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics and became the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics. In 2003 the name was changed back to the Department of Aerospace Engineering.

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  • Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics (1990-2003)

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Center for Nondestructive Evaluation

The Center for Nondestructive Evaluation at Iowa State has been involved in the use of nondestructive evaluation testing (NDT) technologies to: assess the integrity of a substance, material or structure; assess the criticality of any flaws, and to predict the object’s remaining serviceability. NDT technologies used include ultrasonics and acoustic emissions, electromagnetic technologies, computer tomography, thermal imaging, and others.

In October of 1985 the CNDE was approved by the State Board of Regents after it had received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) as an Industry/University Cooperative Research Center.

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Vibrothermography, also known as Sonic IR and thermosonics, is an NDE technique for finding cracks and flaws based on vibration‐induced frictional rubbing of unbonded surfaces. The vibration is usually generated by a piezoelectric stack actuator which transduces electrical energy into large amplitude mechanical vibrations. The amplitude and impedance transfer characteristics of the transducer system control the vibration of the sample. Within a linear contact (no tip chatter) model, the interaction between the transducer system and the specimen can be characterized using the theory of linear time‐invariant (LTI) systems and electro‐mechanical Norton equivalence. We present quantitative measurements of the performance of piezoelectric stack actuators in a vibrothermography excitation system and investigate the effect of actuator performance and specimen characteristics on the induced vibration in the specimen. We show that the system resonances generated because of metal‐metal contact of specimen and actuator are broken by adding a couplant between specimen and actuator. Finally, we give criteria for actuator and couplant selection for vibrothermography.


Copyright 2011 American Institute of Physics. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the American Institute of Physics.

This proceeding appeared in AIP Conference Proceedings, 1335 (2011): 423–429 and may be found at

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