Detection of submicron scale cracks and other mechanical and chemical surface anomalies using PET. This surface technique has sufficient sensitivity to detect single voids or pits of sub-millimeter size and single cracks or fissures of millimeter size; and single cracks or fissures of millimeter-scale length, micrometer-scale depth, and nanometer-scale length, micrometer-scale depth, and nanometer-scale width. This technique can also be applied to detect surface regions of differing chemical reactivity. It may be utilized in a scanning or survey mode to simultaneously detect such mechanical or chemical features over large interior or exterior surface areas of parts as large as about 50 cm in diameter. The technique involves exposing a surface to short-lived radioactive gas for a time period, removing the excess gas to leave a partial monolayer, determining the location and shape of the cracks, voids, porous regions, etc., and calculating the width, depth, and length thereof. Detection of 0.01 mm deep cracks using a 3 mm detector resolution has been accomplished using this technique.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.