Missouri S&T researchers installed this microwave and millimeter-wave laboratory at Boeing’s South Carolina R&D center. (Boeing/Missouri S&T)

Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology and The Boeing Company established a new nondestructive evaluation (NDE) laboratory that uses millimeter-wave technology to improve the detection of potential flaws in coatings, surfaces, and materials.

Microwave and millimeter-wave NDE techniques, spanning the range of approximately 300 megahertz to 300 gigahertz, can be used to detect flaws under attenuative materials, make precise thickness measurements of dielectric coatings, and even detect small surface cracks in metallic structures. The researchers are working together to investigate a millimeter-wave crack-detection approach that could significantly improve ultrasonic and eddy-current approaches currently used for small-crack detection associated with widespread fatigue damage.