Characterization of digital waveforms using thermodynamic analogs: Applications to detection of materials defects

Michael S. Hughes, Jon N. Marsh, Christopher S. Hall, David Savéry, Gregory M. Lanza, Samuel A. Wickline

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


We describe characterization of digital signals using analogs of thermodynamic quantities: the topological entropy, Shannon entropy, thermodynamic energy, partition function, specific heat at constant volume, and an idealized version of Shannon entropy in the limit of digitizing with infinite dynamic range and sampling rate. We show that analysis based on these quantities is capable of detecting differences between digital signals that are undetectable by conventional methods of characterization based on peak-to-peak amplitude or signal energy. We report the results of applying thermodynamic quantities to a problem from nondestructive materials evaluation: detection of foreign objects (FO) embedded near the surface of thin graphite/epoxy laminates using backscattered waveforms obtained by C-scanning the laminate. The characterization problem was to distinguish waveforms acquired from the region containing the FO from those acquired outside. In all cases the thermodynamic analogs exhibit significant increases (up to 20-fold) in contrast and for certain types of FO materials permit detection when energy or amplitude methods fail altogether.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1555-1564
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2005


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