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Title: Investigation of methods for data communication and power delivery through metals
Authors: Graham, David James
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: The retrieval of data from a sensor, enclosed by a metallic structure, such as a naval vessel, pipeline or nuclear flask is often very challenging. To maintain structural integrity it is not desirable to penetrate the wall of the structure, preventing any hard-wired solution. Furthermore, the conductive nature of the structure prevents the use of radio communications. Applications involving sealed containers also have a requirement for power delivery, as the periodic changing of batteries is not possible. Ultrasound has previously been identified as an attractive approach but there are two key challenges: efficient/reliable ultrasonic transduction and a method of overcoming the inherent multipath distortion resulting from boundary reflections. Previous studies have utilised piezoelectric contact transducers, however, they are impractical due to their reliance on coupling, i.e. the bond between the transducer and the metal surface, which leads to concerns over long term reliability. A non-contact transducer overcomes this key drawback, thus highlighting the electromagnetic acoustic transducer (EMAT) as a favourable alternative. This thesis presents the design and testing of an EMAT with appropriate characteristics for through-metal data communications. A low cost, low power data transmission scheme is presented for overcoming acoustic multipath based on pulse position modulation (PPM). Due to the necessary guard time, the data rate is limited to 50kbps. A second solution is presented employing continuous wave, Quadrature phase shift keying (QPSK) modulation, allowing data rates in excess of 1Mbps to be achieved. Equalisation is required to avoid intersymbol interference (ISI) and a decision feedback equaliser (DFE) is shown to be adept at mitigating this effect. The relatively low efficiency of an EMAT makes it unsuitable for power delivery, consequently, an alternative non-contact approach, utilising inductive coupling, is explored. Power transfer efficiency of ≈ 4% is shown to be achievable through 20mm thick stainless steel.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering

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