Two Innovative Applications Combining Fiber Optics and High Power Pulsed Laser: Active Ultrasonic Based Structural Health Monitoring and Guided Laser Micromachining
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This dissertation presents the exploration of two fiber optics techniques involving high power pulse laser delivery. The first research topic is "Embedded Active Fiber Optic Sensing Network for Structural Health Monitoring in Harsh Environments", which uses the fiber delivered pulse laser for acoustic generation. The second research topic is "Fiber Optics Guided Laser Micromachining", which uses the fiber delivered pulse laser for material ablation. The objective of the first research topic is to develop a first-of-a-kind technology for remote fiber optic generation and detection of acoustic waves for structural health monitoring in harsh environments. Three different acoustic generation mechanisms were studied in detail, including laser induced plasma breakdown (LIB), Erbium-doped fiber laser absorption, and metal laser absorption. By comparing the performance of the acoustic generation units built based on these three mechanisms, the metal laser absorption method was selected to build a complete fiber optic structure health monitoring (FO-SHM) system. Based on the simulation results of elastic wave propagation and fiber Bragg grating acoustic pulse detection, an FO-SHM sensing system was designed and built. This system was first tested on an aluminum piece in the room temperature range and successfully demonstrated its capability of multi-parameter monitoring and multi-point sensing. With additional studies, the upgraded FO-SHM element was successfully demonstrated at high temperatures up to 600oC on P-91 high temperature steels. During the studies of high power pulse laser delivery, it was discovered that with proper laser-to-fiber coupling, the output laser from a multimode fiber can directly ablate materials around the fiber tip. Therefore, it is possible to use a fiber-guided laser beam instead of free space laser beams for micromachining, and this solves the aspect ratio limitation rooted in a traditional laser beam micromachining method. In this dissertation, this Guided Laser MicroMachining (GLMM) concept was developed and experimentally demonstrated by applying it to high aspect ratio micro-drilling. It was achieved that an aspect ratio of 40 on aluminum and an aspect ratio of 100 on PET, with a hole diameter less than 200 um.
General Audience Abstract
This dissertation presents two research topics both related to high power laser and fiber optic. The first topic studies the application of using optical fiber and high power laser for ultrasonic non-destructive evaluation. The general idea is to use fiber optic to remotely generate and monitor ultrasonic waves on a workpiece. Due to the fact that there are no electronic components involved in the sensing part of the system, this system can work at high temperature and is unsusceptible to EMI. The second topic studies the usage of optical fiber in high aspect ratio micromachining. The key concept is to use a fiber tip and the output high power laser as a "drilling tip", which eliminate the aspect ratio limitation rooted in the traditional free-space laser micromachining method. With this concept and a demonstrative micromachining system, we achieved record-breaking aspect ratio on both aluminum and plastic.
- Doctoral Dissertations