A Novel Design Component Enabling Rapid, Accurate, Non-Destructive Testing of Concrete Roadways and Structures

Physical Sciences : Civil Engineering

Available for licensing


  • Jinying Zhu, Ph.D. , University of Texas at Austin
  • Michael Haberman, Ph.D. , University of Texas at Austin
  • Xiaowei Dai, M.S. , University of Texas at Austin

Background/unmet need

In 2009, The Association of Civil Engineering generated its annual report on the state of America’s transportation infrastructure. The resulting grade of "D" highlights the growing need for the repair and/or replacement of a majority of critically important bridges, overpasses and adjacent roadways. More than 50% of US infrastructure maintenance funds go toward repair or replacement of bridge decks. Industry estimates suggest that $2.2 trillion will be required over the next five years to address infrastructure maintenance.

The enabling technology for assessing the physical condition of concrete structures, including bridge decks and roadways, are the suite of existing non-destructive testing (NDT) methodologies. NDT methods are practiced routinely to provide valuable insight into small surface breaking cracks and sub-surface conditions of concrete structures, which is where corrosion begins that eventually leads to delamination and potential failure. Current techniques, however, have limited utility and high cost because they require significant time and manpower to scan the structure of interest.

Invention Description

Inventors at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a unique device, an acoustic source, that enables rapid non-contact scanning of bridge and roadway infrastructure through established stress-wave NDT methods. The device, when used with existing stress-wave NDT testing equipment, enables much faster data generation and a higher scanning rate at a significant cost reduction when compared to conventional or non-contact ultrasound and stress wave generating instruments.


  • Low cost design
  • Completely non-contact
  • Immune to surface conditions
  • Versatile for testing different materials and ranges of sample thicknesses
  • Able to test thick materials and high impedance materials
  • Demonstrated accuracy comparable to full contact methods


  • No physical contact with testing surface required
  • Utilizes industry-standard software for data manipulation
  • Broader excitation frequency range
  • High amplitude testing

Market potential/applications

Non-destructive testing is a $1B market globally. Increasing demand for infrastructure maintenance and improvement will create a growing market opportunity for NDT services. Existing equipment providers are interested in technology to reduce equipment maintenance, increase equipment performance and increase measurement throughput. This technology addresses industry needs.

Development Stage

Lab/bench prototype

IP Status