Penetration Properties of Ground Penetrating Radar Waves through Rebar Grids

Hai Liu, Hantao Lu, Jianying Lin, Feng Han, Chao Liu, Jie Cui, Billie F. Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) has been widely applied to the nondestructive inspection of concrete structures such as tunnel lining, bridge deck, and retaining wall, which are usually reinforced by steel bars. The scattering of electromagnetic (EM) waves caused by the dense steel rebar embedded in the concrete structures has a severe influence on the penetration capacity of GPR waves. In this letter, the scattering and penetration characteristics of EM waves propagating through rebar net are investigated via both numerical and laboratory experiments, with an aim to select the antenna nominal frequency for a different reinforcement density. The results show that the rebar, which is perpendicular to the polarization direction of GPR waves and has a very small diameter compared with the wavelength, is almost transparent to the impinged GPR waves. The scattering and interaction of GPR waves caused by the rebar that is parallel to the polarization direction result in a shielding effect, which is manifested as a blind band in the low-frequency range in the transmitted spectrum. This result violates the rule of thumb commonly used in the GPR community, i.e., the lower frequency has a deeper GPR penetration depth. In the end, a low cutoff frequency is recommended for selecting a GPR antenna with an appropriate nominal frequency when it is used in the detection of an anomaly inside and behind a reinforced concrete structure, in which the spacing of the rebar net is known.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9108531
Pages (from-to)1199-1203
Number of pages5
JournalIEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Attenuation
  • Ground penetrating radar (GPR)
  • Penetration depth
  • Rebar scattering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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