Laser ultrasonic nondestructive evaluation (NDE) methods have been proposed to replace conventional in vivo dental clinical diagnosis tools that are either destructive or incapable of quantifying the elasticity of human dental enamel. In this work, a laser NDE system that can perform remote measurements on samples of small dimensions is presented. A focused laser line source is used to generate broadband surface acoustic wave impulses that are detected with a simplified optical fiber interferometer. The measured surface wave velocity dispersion spectrum is in turn used to characterize the elasticity of the specimen. The NDE system and the analysis technique are validated with measurements of different metal structures and then applied to evaluate human dental enamel. Artificial lesions are prepared on the samples to simulate different states of enamel elasticity. Measurement results for both sound and lesioned regions, as well as lesions of different severity, are clearly distinguishable from each other and fit well with physical expectations and theoretical value. This is the first time, to the best of our knowledge, that a laser-based surface wave velocity dispersion technique is successfully applied on human dental enamel, demonstrating the potential for noncontact, nondestructive in vivo detection of the development of carious lesions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
- Biomedical Engineering