In non-destructive ultrasonic testing, multi-element sensors are used for the inspection of structures to ensure the safety of people and infrastructures. Currently, one of the driving factor of an ultrasonic method is the number of elements of the sensor, influencing the speed and efficiency of the inspection but also the cost and the volume of the equipment. This project aims at developing a prototype of a multi-element sensor with a limited number of elements compared to current state of the art equipment, without losing imaging resolution. To achieve this goal, Compressed Sensing (CS), a recent technique of signal processing allowing to go beyond the traditional sampling theorems and to reconstruct data from severely undersampled measurements, will be used. The ultrasonic inspection procedure will need to be entirely rethought to meet the CS requirements, specifically the sparsity of the measured data and the incoherence of the measurement process. The expected results is a significant reduction (of the order of 5) of the number of elements to conduct imaging, which would be a true revolution in NDT with direct applications in various industrials sectors.
The following laboratories, all located in Saclay (France) of the CEA (the French atomic commission), will participate to the project: the NDT department for its expertise in multi-element ultrasonic testing and Neurospin and Cosmostat for their expertises in the field of CS, mainly applied to medical RMI imaging and astrophysics, respectively. The collaboration between these three labs, each among the worldwide leading institutes in their respective fields, will ensure the creation of a new and disruptive family of sensors.