Terahertz radome inspection
Radomes protecting sensitive radar, navigational, and communications equipment of, e.g., aircraft, are strongly exposed to the environment and have to withstand harsh weather conditions and potential impacts. Besides their significance to the structural integrity of the radomes, it is often crucial to optimize the composite structures for best possible radio performance. Hence, there exists a significant interest in non-destructive testing techniques, which can be used for defect inspection of radomes in field use as well as for quality inspection during the manufacturing process. Contactless millimeter-wave and terahertz imaging techniques provide millimeter resolution and have the potential to address both application scenarios. We report on our development of a three-dimensional (3D) terahertz imaging system for radome inspection during industrial manufacturing processes. The system was designed for operation within a machining center for radome manufacturing. It simultaneously gathers terahertz depth information in adjacent frequency ranges, from 70 to 110 GHz and from 110 to 170 GHz by combining two frequency modulated continuous-wave terahertz sensing units into a single measurement device. Results from spiraliform image acquisition of a radome test sample demonstrate the successful integration of the measurement system.