Characterization of stress corrosion cracking in carbon steel using nonlinear Rayleigh surface waves

Daniel T. Zeitvogel, Kathryn H. Matlack, Jin Yeon Kim, Laurence J. Jacobs, Preet M. Singh, Jianmin Qu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This research uses nonlinear Rayleigh surface waves to characterize stress corrosion cracking (SCC) damage in carbon steel. Cold rolled carbon steel is widely used for buried fuel pipelines; the environment surrounding these pipelines creates a mildly corrosive environment, which, in combination with an applied stress, can cause SCC. To ensure the safe operation of these structures, it is crucial that damage due to SCC be detected before their structural integrity is reduced by large cracks. In the early stages of SCC, microstructural changes such as dislocation formation and microcrack initiation occur, which have shown to considerably increase the acoustic nonlinearity of a material. These microstructural changes distort and generate higher harmonics in an initially monochromatic ultrasonic wave. This research considers four different levels of SCC induced in four separate 1018 steel specimens, a material which has a similar susceptibility to SCC as steel used for buried fuel pipelines. Then nonlinear ultrasonic measurements are performed before and after the SCC damage is induced. Nonlinear Rayleigh surface waves are utilized to detect the SCC damage that is concentrated near the material surface. The amplitudes of the fundamental and second harmonic waves are measured with contact wedge transducers at varying propagation distances to obtain the acoustic nonlinearity of the specimens as a function of SCC damage. The results show an increase in the measured acoustic nonlinearity in the early stages of SCC, indicating the feasibility of using this nonlinear ultrasonic method to detect the initiation of SCC in carbon steels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-152
Number of pages9
JournalNDT and E International
StatePublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Nonlinear Rayleigh waves
  • Nonlinear ultrasound
  • Stress corrosion cracking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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