Ultrasonic Signal Processing Platform for Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE)

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Ultrasonic nondestructive evaluation (NDE) has been widely used in quality assessment and failure analysis for critical structures or components in manufacturing, bridge structure, microelectronic packaging, and composite materials for aircraft structure. The NDE system is commonly designed on microcontrollers and digital signal processors, which fall short of meeting the demands of high speed and requirements of adaptability. This requires reconfigurable computing devices to implement the system.

A Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) is a semiconductor device which contains configurable logic blocks, programmable interconnects and flexible input/output blocks. It is widely used in applications within: automotive, communications, industrial automation, motor control, video processing, and medical imaging fields. Without requiring hardware changes, the use of an FPGA expands the product life by updating data stream files.  Additionally FPGAs have grown to have the capability to hold an entire system on a single chip.  

The goal of this project is to build a prototype ultrasonic signal processing platform using FPGAs. The platform acquires ultrasound data at the speed of 100 million samples per second. The embedded system running on an FPGA is reprogrammable to test new signal processing algorithms and new NDE standards/methods. To demonstrate the system, a split spectrum processing algorithm is implemented and the result is displayed on a touch screen LCD.  Thanks to the flexibility of FPGA, the platform is not limited to ultrasound NDE application.  It may have a broader impact on future project development for signal processing research and education.