Modal decomposition of acoustic emissions from pencil-lead breaks in an isotropic thin plate

Xinyue Yao, Benjamin Steven Vien, Nik Rajic, Cedric Rosalie, L. R.Francis Rose, Chris Davies, Wing Kong Chiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Acoustic emission (AE) testing and Lamb wave inspection techniques have been widely used in non-destructive testing and structural health monitoring. For thin plates, the AEs arising from structural defect development (e.g., fatigue crack propagation) propagate as Lamb waves, and Lamb wave modes can be used to provide important information about the growth and localisation of defects. However, few sensors can be used to achieve the in situ wavenumber–frequency modal decomposition of AEs. This study explores the ability of a new multi-element piezoelectric sensor array to decompose AEs excited by pencil lead breaks (PLBs) on a thin isotropic plate. In this study, AEs were generated by out-of-plane (transverse) and in-plane (longitudinal) PLBs applied at the edge of the plate, and waveforms were recorded by both the new sensor array and a commercial AE sensor. Finite element analysis (FEA) simulations of PLBs were also conducted and the results were compared with the experimental results. To identify the wave modes present, the longitudinal and transverse PLB test results recorded by the new sensor array at five different plate locations were compared with FEA simulations using the same arrangement. Two-dimensional fast Fourier Transforms were then applied to the AE wavefields. It was found that the AE modal composition was dependent on the orientation of the PLB direction. The results suggest that this new sensor array can be used to identify the AE wave modes excited by PLBs in both in-plane and out-of-plane directions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1988
Number of pages14
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • 2D FFT
  • acoustic emission
  • Lamb wave
  • modal decomposition
  • pencil lead break test
  • spectrum analysis
  • structural health monitoring
  • wave propagation

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