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Non-destructive Testing of Reinforced Concrete Structures Using Sub-Terahertz Reflected Wavest
By: Chihiro Kobayashi, Tomoya Nishiwaki, Tadao Tanabe, Takahiro Oohashi, Hitoshi Hamasaki, Shuya Hikishima, Akio Tanaka, Koji Arita, Sho Fujii, Daisuke Sato, Takeshi Kidokoro
Source: Science Direct

Terahertz (THz) and sub-terahertz (sub-THz) waves are unexplored waves between the infrared and microwave ranges. This range features unique characteristics of both light resolution and electromagnetic wave transmission. Sub-THz waves are part of attractive new diagnostic methods for inner objects because they are safer than normal non-destructive inspection methods involving high energy, such as X-rays. In this study, a novel non-contact and non-destructive inspection method for reinforced concrete (RC) structures using sub-THz reflection imaging is proposed to inspect the deterioration of inaccessible damaged RC structures. The results of this study confirmed that the proposed sub-THz imaging method can detect cracks and voids in concrete, as well as in metals inside or behind the concrete, based on differences in reflectance. In addition, the camera-based measurement system makes real-time on-site field measurements possible.


In recent years, the deterioration of reinforced concrete (RC) structures has become an issue all over the world. Especially in Japan and other developed countries, large number of social infrastructures built during periods of rapid economic growth are aging significantly (Alexander and Beushausen, 2019). The importance of appropriate maintenance management, including investigation and diagnosis, has been highlighted. In addition, from the perspective of a decarbonized society, it is desirable to avoid demolishing buildings and extend the service life of RC structures through necessary and affordable repairs. Thus, these considerations highlight a growing need for non-contact, non-destructive inspection methods to diagnose infrastructure deterioration without compromising performance. Furthermore, if remote inspection is possible, it is expected to improve measurement efficiency and expand the applicable areas. Therefore, a new inspection method that is not only non-destructive but also non-contact is required. Several non-destructive and micro-destructive testing methods have been proposed for RC structures. For example, for internal defects that cannot be detected by visual inspection, some of the most widely used methods include percussion inspection (Kazemi et al., 2019), ultrasonic flaw detection (Lawson et al., 2011; Choi et al., 2016) and ground penetrating radar (GPR) (Hugenschmidt and Mastrangelo, 2006; Chang et al., 2009; Laurens et al., 2005; Liu et al., 2020; Wiwatrojanagul et al., 2017). Table 1 shows a comparison between these methods. During percussion inspection, the concrete surface is knocked, which makes it possible to infer the state of internal deterioration based on the difference in the echo sound. In the case of ultrasonic waves, also a type of elastic wave, it is possible to measure the location of cracks and rebars inside concrete due to differences in acoustic impedance inside the material. Using GPR makes it possible to probe embedded rebars and voids inside concrete owing to its high penetration depth. However, these methods require contact with an object to be measured, which causes measurement problems at elevated or generally inaccessible places, thus highlighting the need for developing a method that can inspect the interior of concrete without contact.

Read the full paper at ScienceDirect.com.

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