Apparatus detects defects and microstructural changes in hard translucent materials such as ceramic bulk compositions and ceramic coatings such as after use under load conditions. The beam from a tunable laser is directed onto the sample under study and light reflected by the sample is directed to two detectors, with light scattered with a small scatter angle directed to a first detector and light scattered with a larger scatter angle directed to a second detector for monitoring the scattering surface. The sum and ratio of the two detector outputs respectively provide a gray-scale, or "sum" image, and an indication of the lateral spread of the subsurface scatter, or "ratio" image. This two detector system allows for very high speed crack detection for on-line, real-time inspection of damage in ceramic components. Statistical image processing using a digital image processing approach allows for the quantative discrimination of the presence and distribution of small flaws in a sample while improving detection reliability. The tunable laser allows for the penetration of the sample to detect defects from the sample's surface to the laser's maximum depth of penetration. A layered optical fiber directs the incoming laser beam to the sample and transmits each scattered signal to a respective one of the two detectors.
CONTRACTUAL ORIGIN OF THE INVENTION
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-31-109-ENG-38 between the U.S. Department of Energy and The University of Chicago representing Argonne National Laboratory.