An apparatus for mid-infrared reflectance imaging has been developed as means of inspecting for subsurface damage in thermal-barrier coatings (TBCs). The apparatus is designed, more specifically, for imaging the progression of buried delamination cracks in plasma-sprayed yttria-stabilized zirconia coatings on turbine-engine components. Progression of TBC delamination occurs by the formation of buried cracks that grow and then link together to produce eventual TBC spallation. The mid-infrared reflectance imaging system described here makes it possible to see delamination progression that is invisible to the unaided eye, and therefore give sufficiently advanced warning before delamination progression adversely affects engine performance and safety.

A TBC-Coated Specimen Is Imaged using reflected mid-infrared radiation at a wavelength of 4 μm. At this wavelength, subsurface delamination progression in the TBC that is invisible to the unaided eye becomes visible in the mid-infrared reflectance image.

The apparatus (see figure) includes a commercial mid-infrared camera that contains a liquid-nitrogen-cooled focalplane indium antimonide photodetector array, and imaging is restricted by a narrow bandpass centered at wavelength of 4 μm. This narrow wavelength range centered at 4 μm was chosen because (1) it enables avoidance of interfering absorptions by atmospheric OH and CO2 at 3 and 4.25 μm, respectively; and (2) the coating material exhibits maximum transparency in this wavelength range. Delamination contrast is produced in the midinfrared reflectance images because the introduction of cracks into the TBC creates an internal TBC/air-gap interface with a high diffuse reflectivity of 0.81, resulting in substantially higher reflectamce of mid-infrared radiation in regions that contain buried delamination cracks.

The camera is positioned a short distance (≈12 cm) from the specimen. The mid-infrared illumination is generated by a 50-watt silicon carbide source positioned to the side of the mid-infrared camera, and the illumination is collimated and reflected onto the specimen by a 6.35-cm-diameter off-axis paraboloidal mirror. Because the collected images are of a steady-state reflected intensity (in contrast to the transient thermal response observed in infrared thermography), collection times can be lengthened to whatever extent needed to achieve desired signal-to-noise ratios.

Each image is digitized, and the resulting data are processed in several steps to obtain a true mid-infrared reflectance image. The raw image includes thermal radiation emitted by the specimen in addition to the desired reflected radiation. The thermal-radiation contribution is eliminated by subtracting the image obtained with the illumination off from the image obtained with the illumination on. A flat-field correction is then made to remove the effects of non-uniformities in the illumination level and pixel-topixel variations in sensitivity. This correction is performed by normalizing to an image of a standard object that has a known reflectance at a wavelength of 4 μm. After correction, each pixel value is proportional to the reflectance (at a wavelength of 4-μm) at the corresponding location on the specimen.

Mid-infrared reflectance imaging of specimens that were thermally cycled for different numbers of cycles was performed and demonstrated that mid-infrared reflectance imaging was able to monitor the gradual delamination progression that occurs with continued thermal cycling. Reproducible values were obtained for the reflectance associated with an attached and fully delaminated TBC, so that intermediate reflectance values could be interpreted

to successfully predict the number of thermal cycles to failure.

This work was done by Jeffrey I. Eldridge of Glenn Research Center and Richard E. Martin of Cleveland State University. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at under the Physical Sciences category.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to

NASA Glenn Research Center
Innovative Partnerships Office
Attn: Steve Fedor
Mail Stop 4–8
21000 Brookpark Road
Ohio 44135.

Refer to LEW-17950-1.