Nondestructive testing (NDT) is an important part of optimizing any pavement management system. Techniques such as falling weight deflectometer (FWD) using geophones [1
] and rolling wheel deflectometer (RWD) using laser deflection system [2
] are popular among researchers to find properties of the road. Moreover, accelerometers can be used to find the mechanical properties of asphalt concrete by applying a back calculation technique [3
]. In recent years, laser Doppler vibrometer (LDV) has been introduced to conduct noncontact measurements in road engineering, and it is replacing the traditional vibration sensors [4
LDV is an optical measurement system that is used to perform noncontact vibration measurements on a surface [6
]. LDV devices were first introduced in the 1980s, but their limited sensitivity and low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) allowed measurements only on very diffusive surfaces or by applying a retroreflective tape on the testing objects. It was only in the early 1990s that hardware and software developments increased instrumentation performances and applicability, leading to many researchers using LDV. LDV can significantly extend measurement capabilities compared to traditional vibration sensors, such as accelerometers, because the results will not be affected by errors due to mass loading of accelerometers. This is relevant for modal parameter estimation, especially when testing light or small structures or highly damped nonlinear materials [7
]. LDV can also replace accelerometers for vibration measurement in cases where installing accelerometers in different measurement points is difficult [8
]. One of the main applications of the LDV in road engineering is traffic speed deflectometer (TSD). TSD is an RWD that uses Doppler technology to measure pavement deflection while traveling at normal traffic speed. Using the measured deflection, bearing capacity indices can be derived, and pavement fatigue or residual life can be estimated [5
]. Furthermore, scanning laser Doppler vibrometer (SLDV) has the ability to rapidly and precisely move the measurement point on the structure, allowing the analysis of a large surface with high spatial resolution. Using an SLDV, it is possible to perform modal analysis on targets and evaluate the natural frequencies, modal damping, and modal shapes of a structure [9
]. This method can be used for pavement materials in order to conduct a modal analysis experiment and determine the mechanical properties of different types of asphalt concretes using a back-calculation technique [11
For many years, the He–Ne laser was the leading technology used in commercial laser Doppler instruments. The desire for long-range measurements without reduction of the signal quality has seen the introduction of an instrument with a higher power infrared (invisible) fiber laser, which is used in conjunction with a green laser for sighting purposes. The infrared laser technology is now migrating into instrument designs for short-range applications on optically less cooperative surfaces, finally challenging the supremacy of the He–Ne laser [12
]. This is an important improvement as the poor surface quality of the asphalt concretes can increase measurement uncertainties.
In data acquisition and signal processing, the noise floor is a measure of the summation of all the noise sources and unwanted signals generated by the entire data acquisition and signal processing system. In any measurement, the minimum resolvable signal level must be sufficiently larger than the noise content of the signal to obtain reliable measurements. To be able to use an LDV system for measurement, it is important to know the minimum detectable level. The noise floor can be established by examining the content of the spectrum of a signal measured by LDV where no external vibration is applied to the system. It is dependent on the optics, electronics, the software of the LDV, and the properties of the media and reflective target [13
]. Speckle noise is one of the main sources of noise in LDV, especially in cases where there is relative motion between the test item and laser beam [7
]. This particular type of noise has been investigated and modeled by several researchers [14
In this research, noise floor measurements are firstly reported for two types of LDV on four different surface conditions. Then, a modal analysis experiment is designed to investigate the ability of both instruments to perform measurements on different types of pavements with both treated and untreated surface conditions.
This paper is divided into four sections. The first section includes the introduction and state of the art. In Section 2
, an overview of the research methodology, experimental setup, and measurement procedure is given. In Section 3
, the measurement results are discussed in detail. This entails a comparison of the noise floor of both instruments, the effect of the surface quality on the noise floor measurements, and modal analysis of three types of pavements. Finally, conclusions of the research are given in the last section.
2. Materials and Methods
Three measurement instruments were used in this research: a He–Ne SLDV (Polytec PSV-400), an infrared LDV (Polytec RSV-150) with two short-range and long-range lenses, and an infrared SLDV (Polytec PSV-500-3D Xtra). The LDV has the ability to carry out measurements at one point, and the SLDV has a computer-controlled mirror that can direct the laser to the desired measurement points so that measurements can be performed on a predefined grid on the surface of an object. The He–Ne SLDV has a class 2 laser with 633 nm wavelength and less than 1 mW power. The infrared LDV has a green targeting laser with 523 nm wavelength and a measurement laser with a wavelength of 1550 nm. The output power of the infrared LDV when both lasers are in operation is 10 mW class 2. The autofocus of both SLDV instruments is done automatically, but the infrared LDV has two long-range and short-range lenses and has to be manually focused. The short-range lens is for standoff distances between 1 to 5 m, and the long-range lens is used for a standoff distance larger than 5 m and up to 300 m.
Two sets of experiments were conducted in this research. The first experiment was to estimate the noise floor on targets with different surface conditions. The He–Ne SLDV and the infrared LDV were placed at the same standoff distance in front of the target, and measurements were conducted on one point on the target (Figure 1
These instruments have different analog-to-digital converters (ADC); therefore, the sensitivity of the ADC is important for the experiments. To be able to compare the devices with each other, closest sensitivity values were chosen for both devices in a way that the less accurate device (He–Ne SLDV) had a lower sensitivity. Afterwards, to compare the noise floor of each device for different surfaces, the sensitivity of the He–Ne SLDV and infrared LDV were set to 20 and 122.5 mm/s/v, respectively. The four investigated targets were surfaces covered with a retroreflective tape, white tape, black tape, and an asphalt concrete.
The second experiment was designed to investigate the ability of different SLDVs to measure treated and untreated pavements. Modal analysis experiments were conducted to find the modal parameters of three different pavement slabs. First, a He–Ne SLDV was used for measurements on pavements with poor surface quality. To investigate the effect of surface quality, one side of the specimens were painted with a white spray paint (Ardrox®
9D1B aerosol), and the same modal analysis experiments were conducted on the painted side. Meanwhile, mode shapes of the specimens were predicted by a finite element model, and the modal assurance criterion (MAC) was calculated between the mode shapes acquired by SLDV and FEM. These type of experiments can be used to find mechanical properties of specimens with inverse method [11
]. Then, the same modal analysis experiments on the same specimens were conducted with a 3D infrared SLDV.
The test items were three types of pavements. The first one was a thin asphalt layer (TAL) pavement with dimensions of 59 cm in length, 39 cm in width, and 2.6 cm in thickness. This type of asphalt is used as a top layer with an optimized fine texture in order to reduce tire vibrations and therefore the tire/road noise. The pavement used in the research project was the N19 in Kasterlee, Belgium [17
] and Antwerpen, Belgium [19
]. The second specimen was a 50*18*5.5 cm poroelastic road surface (PERS). PERS is a type of low-noise pavement with a higher elasticity than conventional road surfaces and a larger percentage of voids. The PERS has a porous structure composed of granular rubber made from recycled tires, aggregates, and polyurethane (PUR) resin as a binder [20
]. The third test specimen was a 59*39*3.4 cm stone mastic asphalt (SMA). SMA has been used successfully in Europe for over 40 years to provide better rutting resistance and to resist studded tire wear [22
]. As represented in Figure 2
, in this part, the specimens were hung from a frame using two screw eyes and fishing lines to simulate the free-free condition. A Brüel & Kjær modal exciter type 4824 excited the specimens with a periodic chirp signal between the frequency range of 5 to 1000 Hz. Signals were generated using the Polytec onboard signal generator and amplified by a Brüel & Kjær power amplifier type 2732. A Brüel & Kjær force transducer type 8230-001 was placed between the tip of the shaker and the specimen to measure the exact force used for FRF calculations. Then, using an accurate modal parameter estimator called the Polymax estimator [23
], modal parameters of the specimens were calculated from the spectrum of measured signals. An overview of all the experiments and their settings are presented in Table 1
and Table 2
After 30 years of using He–Ne LDV as an accurate, noncontact measurement device, an infrared LDV with higher power compared to the conventional He–Ne LDV was developed to improve the quality of measurements in long-range applications. The infrared LDV is now becoming more popular, including in applications of optically low cooperative surfaces. In this paper, the noise floor of the two instruments (He–Ne and infrared LDV) were compared, and it was revealed that infrared LDV had lower noise level than He–Ne LDV in all surfaces, especially dark surfaces with low surface quality. Furthermore, it was shown that surface quality was more influential in measurements with He–Ne LDV. For instance, at some frequencies, there could be up to 60 dB difference between the noise floor measurements performed on the dark and retroreflective surfaces. Meanwhile, in an infrared LDV, surface quality was not important until 1000 Hz. For higher frequencies, retroreflective tapes could reduce the noise up to 20 dB. Therefore, in short-range measurements on materials with good surface quality, the difference of the noise between the instruments would not be significant. However, in cases where measurements are being conducted on materials with poor surface quality—like in road engineering where measurements are done on asphalt surface—using an infrared LDV could lead to better results (up to 30 dB reduction of noise floor in some frequencies).