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Journal of Failure Analysis and Prevention

, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 812–813 | Cite as

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Sensor Mimics Bats to Detect Dangerous Structural Cracks

An ultrasound sensor for detecting dangerous cracks in structures such as aircraft engines, oil and gas pipelines, and nuclear plants has been developed by researchers at the University of Strathclyde—with inspiration from the natural world. The device, known as a transducer, identifies structural defects with varying ultrasonic frequencies and overcomes the limits of other, similar devices, which are based on rigid structures and have narrow ranges. It is thought to be the first device of its kind.

The transducer developed at Strathclyde has a more flexible structure, based on a natural phenomenon known in mathematics as fractals. These are irregular shapes that recur repeatedly to form objects such as snowflakes, ferns, and cauliflowers, making their structure appear more complex than it often actually is. The same concept also lies behind the hearing system of animals including bats, dolphins, cockroaches, and moths. Tony...

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