Conception and realization of a semiconductor based 240 GHz full 3D MIMO imaging system
Multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) imaging systems in the terahertz frequency range have a high potential in the field of non-destructive testing (NDT). With such systems it is possible to detect defects in composite materials, for example cracks or delaminations in fiber composites. To investigate mass-produced products it is necessary to study the objects in close to real-time on a conveyor without affecting the production cycle time. In this work we present the conception and realization of a 3D MIMO imaging system for in-line investigation of composite materials and structures. To achieve a lateral resolution of 1 mm, in order to detect such small defects in composite materials with a moderate number of elements, precise sensor design is crucial. In our approach we use the effective aperture concept. The designed sparse array consists of 32 transmitters and 30 receivers based on planar semiconductor components. High range resolution is achieved by an operating frequency between 220 GHz and 260 GHz in a stepped frequency continuous wave (SFCW) setup. A matched filter approach is used to simulate the reconstructed 3D image through the array. This allows the evaluation of the designed array geometry in regard of resolution and side lobe level. In contrast to earlier demonstrations, in which synthetic reconstruction is only performed in a 2D plane, an optics-free full 3D reconstruction has been implemented in our concept. Based on this simulation we designed an array geometry that enables to resolve objects with a resolution smaller than 1 mm and moderate side lobe level.