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NDT&E International 37 (2004) 917

The evaluation of surface residual stress in aeronautic bearings

using the Barkhausen noise effect
S. Desvauxa,b, M. Duquennoya,*, J. Gualandrib, M. Ouraka

IEMN, Departement OAE (UMR CNRS 8520), Universite de Valenciennes et du Hainaut Cambresis, B.P. 311,
Valenciennes cedex 9, 59313, France
SNFA, Z.I. n82 Batterie 900 Rouvignies, Valenciennes 59309, France
Received 2 December 2002; revised 4 March 2003; accepted 17 March 2003

Bearings in aeronautic engines are subject to heavy mechanical demands. The bearing raceways withstand levels of mechanical stress
capable of causing metal fatigue that can lead to bearing malfunction, which in turn may cause engine failure mid-flight. For this reason,
regular verifications of engine bearings to gauge the degree of metal fatigue are essential. Such verifications require knowledge of the prestress state of the bearing raceways through use of surface residual stress (SRS) estimates. In this paper, we present a non-destructive method
for estimating SRS, based on the Barkhausen noise (BN) effect. This method was validated on several different batches of bearings. Our
investigations have shown this method to be rapid, well suited to industrial imperatives connected to on-line measurement and easily adapted
to the circular geometries of the bearings rings. In addition, we have shown the efficiency of the BN effect for estimating the SRS of bearing
raceways after engine operation, in order to perform necessary bearing maintenance.
q 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Residual stress; The Barkhausen noise effect; Bearings

1. Introduction
Bearings in aeronautic engines are subject to extremely
severe running conditions. The contact areas between the
balls or rollers and the raceways (both the inner and outer
rings) sustain mechanical stress leading to a hertzien
fatigue process. As a result of this fatigue, micro-cracks
may appear on the contact area. Without intervention,
these cracks can develop until they cause bearing
malfunction, which may lead to engine failure. It is
therefore indispensable to ensure that the contact areas of
aeronautic engine bearings are in optimal condition,
paying particular attention to the metallurgical aspect of
the metal (evidence of grinding abuse, for instance) and to
the metals stress level for any bearing-loading zone by
targeting compressive residual stress. Both the validation
of a method capable to introduce residual stresses and the
development of a non-destructive method that can ensure
* Corresponding author. Fax: 33-03-27-51-11-89.
E-mail address:


0963-8695/03/$ - see front matter q 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

the follow-up of associated residual stresses has become a

necessity. This paper presents a non-destructive method
for identifying the surface stress of the contact areas
between the balls or rollers and their raceways. This
method is based on the phenomenon of Barkhausen noise
(BN), and is adapted to industrial imperatives connected
to on-line measurement. It is rapid, requires no direct
contact and is suitable for the circular geometry of the
bearing rings. Using X-ray diffraction as our method of
reference, we have shown the efficiency of BN in
estimating the surface residual stress (SRS) of raceways
following grinding operations, specific pre-stress treatments and engine operation. Given the success of our
current research, we have begun to consider the possibility
of transferring this method to an industrial environment.

2. Barkhausen effect
BN, as it is often called, was discovered in 1919 by
H. Barkhausen. He put the first in evidence the brutal and
discontinuous character of the movement of magnetic


S. Desvaux et al. / NDT&E International 37 (2004) 917

Fig. 1. Barkhausen noise and the associated hysteresis loop.

domain walls. The discontinuous character of magnetic

domain wall movement can be explained if one considers
the crystal in the scale of the wall and takes into account
the number of surface imperfections (precipitate, vacancy,
dislocations, grain boundaries) which can mark the
perfection of its crystalline network. Confronted with a
defect, the domain wall movement stops abruptly,
remaining blocked at this point until the field reaches a
certain value. If the value of the applied field continues to
increase, the domain wall movement suddenly resumes,
moving on to another defect. The blocking capacity of the
crystalline defects depends on the interaction energy
existing between the defect and the domain wall. An
abrupt domain wall movement provokes an elementary
Barkhausen event; the sum of these events constitutes BN.
Since Weiss domain walls are blocked by defects in the
material, BN allows the measurement of any modifications in the magnetic microstructure and consequently
any modifications in the metallurgic microstructure. Fig. 1
shows the evolution of BN during a hysteresis loop. In
addition to the electromagnetic disruption, some types of
domain wall movement will provoke a magnetostriction
phenomenon. This change in dimension generates an
elastic wave, called acoustic BN or Broadcast
The works of Tiitto [1] in 1977 are the principal
starting point for research concerning the use of BN as a
method of non-destructive control of the metallurgic
states, particularly stress. Under the influence of an
applied magnetic field, domains whose magnetization
parallels that of the magnetic field increase, and domains
whose magnetization is perpendicular to the field decrease
until they finally disappear. Similarly, when a material
undergoes tensile stress, the domains whose magnetization

parallels the direction of the tensile stress increase at the

expense of the other domains, gradually taking over the
total available volume. On the other hand, domains whose
magnetization is perpendicular to the direction of
compressive stress increase and eventually cancel out
the other domains. Thus, as Tiitto showed, the level of the
BN is influenced both by stress and by applied magnetic
fields. If the stress and the magnetic field generate the
same type of change in domain configurations,
the cumulative effect causes elevated levels of BN. On
the other hand, if the stress and the magnetic field cause
conflicting effects on wall movement, the level of BN is
reduced. This phenomena of BN and the influence of
stress on the latter have been well described by many
authors [1,2].

3. Use of Barkhausen noise to estimate stress

Many authors [3 6] have shown that it is possible to
use BN to characterize traction or compression stress.
Pasley [7] was one of the first to use BN to quantify stress
measurements. He studied the evolution of the BN
amplitudes as a function of to the level of stress on a
test tube that was being bent. For a traction load, Pasley
observed an increase in the BN amplitude in the elastic
domain, followed by a zone of saturation when moving
into the plastic domain. For a compression load, he
detected the reduction of the BN amplitude in the elastic
domain, followed once again by noise saturation as the
domain changes to plastic. Langman [8] studied the
influence of stress on the shape of the hysteresis loop on
annealed condition mild steel. He showed that the
hysteresis loop narrows when the measurement of

S. Desvaux et al. / NDT&E International 37 (2004) 917

the field parallels the applied stress, and becomes larger,

though with a smaller amplitude, when the measurement
of the field is perpendicular to the stress. Gilbert et al. [9]
tried to link the applied stress level to the shape of the BN
signal envelope. He applied uniaxial pressure to two of
the magnetically soft steels (with a significant density in
pure iron) used in electric motors. The author noted the
temporal Barkhausen signal, transverse to the uniaxial
pressure, as indicated by the envelope for three loads 200,
400 and 600 MPa, and he noticed an increase in the
Barkhausen signal in terms of the applied stress. However,
the most prevalent representations give the maximum
Barkhausen signal envelope versus the applied stress [4,6,
9 12] or applied strain [13].
Other studies have been done to determine stress using
the BN level of pieces tempered at different temperatures
and having different degrees of hardness [14], or on
materials with different micro-structures [15]. Overall
results are highly diverse, as could be expected given the
variety of microstructures present in the samples and the
sensitivity of BN to a wide selection of metal properties.
For example, different BN levels have been observed for
pieces with the same level of stress but different
metallurgic microstructures [6]. In addition, whatever of
the initial metallurgic microstructure of the material,
magnetically soft steels and low stress levels due to
traction or compression (2 500 and 1000 MPa) produce
sharp noise level variations that are nearly linear. On the
other hand, sensitivity to stress appears to decrease at high
stress levels, and a phenomenon of saturation has been
observed [6].
The evaluation of SRS has been the object of several
publications. The research of Moorty and Nierlich [16,17]
concerning carburising steels EN36 and high bearing steel
100Cr6, has shown that the BN level allows the quantification of SRS. Evaluation of SRS using BN has also proved
very useful for the testing pipes where some defects due to
tensile surface stress can appear either on the pipe surface or
on the welds. Tonshoff and Lindgren [18,19] have shown
that comparing BN parameters to X-ray diffraction
measurements, make it possible to control SRS levels
using BN on soft steel for stress values situated between
2 400 and 400 MPa.
Different parameters were exploited to establish a
linear relation between SRS and the BN. Tonshoff
considered the amplitude, the positions of the amplitude
of the temporal signal and the maximal height of the BN
impulse height distribution [20]. Theiner, on the other
hand, used the amplitude of the Barkhausen signal and the
value of the coercive field [21]. Studies have indicated
that 2D mapping of SRS using BN could limit defects
during the shaping of steel plate [22,23]. For stress
between 2 150 and 300 MPa, the mapping is done by
measuring the BN level versus the micro-deformations in
the longitudinal and transversal directions.


4. Determination of surface residual stress using

Barkhausen noise
In 1957, Biorci and Pescetti [24] proposed a very simple
mathematical formulation for modelling a Barkhausen
impulse in pure iron. He verified that this formulation was
well adapted by verifying that the sum of impulses
permitted the original shape of the BN to be reconstituted.
In 1997, Saquet [25] reactualised this study, representing an
elementary Barkhausen event in temporal terms and from a
Fourier transformation in terms of frequency. Several
authors [26,27] have mentioned the attenuation phenomenon resulting when an electromagnetic field is propagated
in matter, as well as its consequences on the representation
of the BN frequency spectrum.
Because the elementary impulse, and therefore the BN, is
attenuated both by frequency and by the depth of the
elementary impulse (i.e. the distance between the surface
where the receiving wire has been placed and the domain
wall that moves), we can use this attenuation phenomenon
to obtain information about surface stress. Given that the
high-frequency components of the Barkhausen signal are
rapidly attenuated as the wave progresses through the
material, by choosing to analyse the components with
the highest frequency, we are able to study the part of the
Barkhausen signal that is typical of the matters surface
state, leading in turn to information about the surface stress.
In order to establish the relationship between BN and
surface stress, it was first necessary to establish reference
samples. For this purpose, we used several M50 steel
samples, each with a different level of SRS. These samples
were characterized using X-ray diffraction. For each of
these samples, we determined the BN and calculated its
corresponding spectrum. Among the different spectrum
analysis parameters, we chose the area under the section
being analysed.
BN covers a large frequency bandwidth, from about
100 Hz to several MHz. Two filtering procedures are
necessary: a low-pass filter to eliminate high-frequency
interferences and a high-pass filter to free from the slow
variations in the magnetic flux through the section of the
coil of the probe. Our frequency analysis of the BN signal
limited the frequency range between 20 kHz and 1 MHz.
This bandwidth corresponds to that of the receiving coil
used in this study, and in addition to limiting interference, it
allows calculation times to be reduced. Within the 20 kHz
1 MHz bandwidth, we had to select the frequency analysis
band characteristic of the SRS in order to obtain the
relationship between the BN spectrum of each reference
sample and the levels of surface stress as determined by the
X-ray diffraction method.
Since high frequency components were used, the upper
bound of the section is determined by the bandwidth of the
receiving wire: 1 MHz. Then, the lower bound of the
analysis section had to be determined. With this in mind,
we first took 10 BN measurements for each sample. Then,


S. Desvaux et al. / NDT&E International 37 (2004) 917

Fig. 2. Parameters of Barkhausen noise versus the residual surface stress where R2 is the correlation coefficient.

a frequency band was chosen for the high-frequency

analysis [F1;F2] where F2 was equal to 1 MHz. The area
was then calculated for the 10 spectrum measurements. We
averaged these area calculations for each sample, and
connected them to their level of residual surface stress.
Then, we looked for the best regression curve (linear,
exponential) that would allow us to characterize the
evolution of the BN parameter (area) as a function of
the surface stress. Finally, we shifted the lower bound of the
analysis frequency range, and we repeated all these steps
until we obtained the optimum correlation coefficient. A
computerized search using an appropriate frequency range
allowed us to demonstrate a linear relationship between the
SRS and the BN parameter. For reasons of confidentiality,
we cannot specify the value of lower bound F1. Generally,
increasing compression stress causes a reduction of the area
under the amplitude spectrum (Fig. 2). The error margin for
measurements of the area under the amplitude spectrum in
the frequency range [F1, F2] was a maximum of 5%. This is
represented by the vertical bars in Fig. 2. The horizontal
bars show the corresponding error margin for stress
measurements using X-ray diffraction.

Table 1
Micrograph and the mechanical properties of bearings

5. Validation of the method

In order to validate the method, we used BN to estimate
the different levels of SRS on five bearing rings that had
undergone a variety of shot peening operations. These five
rings, respectively, B1, B2, B3, B4 and B5, were made of
M50 steel, whose characteristic structure is a tempering
martensitic matrix composed of ferrites and carbides. The
mechanical properties of M50 steel are primarily determined by thermal treatments, and the principal chemical
constituents are summarized in Table 1.
Given that the estimation of the SRS is obtained from a
parameter of the BN spectrum, it is essential to calibrate before
trying to estimate the stress itself. This calibration consists of
creating a table giving the stress versus the value of area under
the section being analysed (analysis frequency range [F1,
F2]). Because BN is influenced by many material characteristics and properties, a table had to be created for each type of
bearing, taking into consideration every slight difference in
material and every manufacturing process (i.e. heat treatments, chemical treatments and mechanical treatments). For
our study, we created a table using four reference samples.

S. Desvaux et al. / NDT&E International 37 (2004) 917


Fig. 3. Surface residual stress measured by X-ray diffraction versus surface residual stress estimated by Barkhausen noise.

Once the calibration phase is achieved, we estimated the

SRS on five rings, B1, B2, B3, B4 and B5, first using BN and
then using X-ray diffraction. In Fig. 3, we have presented
the SRS measured by X-ray diffraction versus those
estimated using BN. The stress error measured by X-ray
diffraction was obtained by moving the diffraction peak,
which is a function of the metallurgical and geometrical
characteristics of the sample. The stress error estimated by
BN was obtained statistically with a confidence limit of
95%. These experimental results show a clear parallel
between the measurements of SRS using X-ray diffraction
and those estimated using BN; the correlation coefficient of
the linear regression is 99.28%. Given that the X-ray
diffraction method is the calibrated method of reference, the
systematic concurrence of the stress estimates of the two
methods confirms the pertinence and the reliability of the
Barkhausen method for the evaluation of SRS of any given

6. Estimation of surface residual stress on bearings,

following engine operation
This study aims to test the material fatigue of bearings
after engine use, by studying the stress level of the bearings.
The estimation of the SRS after engine operation using BN
is a question of enormous importance for the aircraft
industry of the future. Indeed, the cost of plane maintenance
operations, particularly engine maintenance, continues to
climb due to the longer life expectancy of the planes and the
increasingly stricter safety requirements. For this reason,
some companies plan to do systematic bearing overhauls
following engine operation. These overhauls would include
a visual examination of the components, followed by the regrinding or super finishing of the bearing raceways. This
new approach to engine maintenance will require
taking material fatigue into account. Depending on

the programmed flight plan, the engine bearings and

materials will sustain supplementary fatigue, which will
lead again to modifications of both the materials microstructure and its level of stress. These overhauls will be
limited to those bearings exhibiting a fatigue level under
pre-defined limits, since it would obviously be too
dangerous to repair bearings whose raceways have already
sustained heavy material fatigue.
The level of the material fatigue is currently characterized by measuring the materials residual internal stress.
Doing so requires a non-destructive testing method whose
stress estimates are reliable enough to clearly reject all the
parts, which should not be repaired without eliminating
parts that are still in satisfactory condition. But this method
has to be cheap enough to keep the cost of controlling and
overhauling under the cost of simply replacing the parts.
Both of these conditions are respected by the magnetic
method using BN presented in this article. The SRS
measurements obtained with this method have been
validated by comparison with those measurements obtained
by X-ray diffraction, and if we verify the levels of
compressive residual stress on the total surface of the
bearing rings after engine operation, the cost is 40 times less
than that of the X-ray diffraction method. In addition, the
mapping of 200 measurement points is 60 times as fast. The
measurements of surface stress were made on a batch of 20
bearings with the same reference. The inner rings of these
bearings are made of 52,100 steel, a material characterized
by a compound spheroid structure of ferrites and carbides.
The mechanical properties of 52,100 steel are summarized
in Table 2.
After creating the table which allows the estimation of
surface stress on these inner rings using BN, we estimated
the SRS on all 20 rings and compared the estimations using
BN with the measurements obtained with the X-ray
diffraction method. The results, shown on Fig. 4, indicate
a clear parallel between the estimations using BN and


S. Desvaux et al. / NDT&E International 37 (2004) 917

Table 2
Micrograph and the mechanical properties of bearings

Fig. 4. Surface residual stress estimations using Barkhausen noise on 20 inner rings of 52,100 steel compared to the X-ray diffraction measurements.

the measurements using X-ray diffraction, with the exception of two inner rings (90,343 and A244). To understand
why the X-ray diffraction measurements and BN estimations of the SRS differed for both rings 90,343 and A244,
we verified the homogeneity of the stress over the width of
the raceway. The difference in the results obtained with
these two methods could be explained by the fact that the
volumes inspected were not the same for both methods (Fig.
5(a) and (b)). For the X-ray diffraction, the measurement
was localized only a few mm3 were irradiated and X-rays
were focused in the middle of raceway. For the BN method,
on the other hand, the volume of material contributing to
measurement is several mm3. Therefore, of the stress
evolves along the transversal direction of the raceway
(following the direction z in Fig. 6), the estimated SRS were
different for the two methods.
In order to control the homogeneity of the stress over
the width of the raceway, we did several mappings using

BN on the load zones of three inner rings, one ring where

the X-ray and Barkhausen measurements concurred (ring
A79) and two others, the rings 90,343 and A244. These
mappings were obtained by moving the position of

Fig. 5. Bulk inspected (a) by X-rays diffraction and (b) by Barkhausen


S. Desvaux et al. / NDT&E International 37 (2004) 917


Fig. 6. Mapping of surface loading zone inspected using Barkhausen noise.

the magnetic sensor along the raceway in the transversal

direction, at the same time causing the ring to rotate on its
axis (Fig. 6). These mappings correspond in the end to
those developed for the stress levels of the bearing
raceways, similar to the C-scan of ultrasonic methods.
Obtaining the same kind of mapping with the X-ray
diffraction method would require approximately 200
measurements, which explains the higher cost and the
longer time needed for this method, as opposed to the BN
The three mappings discussed above are presented in
Figs. 7 9. For reasons of confidentiality, BN levels versus
the spatial position on the raceway are given rather than
the stress levels. Despite this presentation, the homogeneities and the heterogeneities of the stress appear

clearly, given that the BN levels are directly proportional

to the levels of SRS.
Fig. 7 represents the mapping of raceway A79. Clearly,
the level of BN is homogeneous and uniform throughout the
raceway. The observed stress level is the result of the initial
stress (prior to engine operation) and of the stress introduced
by the loads appearing between the loading zones of the
inner ring and the rolling elements. This homogeneity
means that both the pre-stress treatments prior to engine
operation and the load distribution on the inner ring during
engine operation were homogeneous.
Figs. 8 and 9 represent the mappings of inner rings
90,343 and A244 ,respectively. The level of BN, and
consequently the stress level, is neither homogeneous nor
uniform in the transverse direction of the raceways of these

Fig. 7. Mapping of the Barkhausen noise level on the loading zones of A79
bearing inner rings after engine operation.

Fig. 8. Mapping of the Barkhausen noise level on the loading zones of

90,343 bearing inner rings after engine operation.


S. Desvaux et al. / NDT&E International 37 (2004) 917

cycle (i.e. during renovation), but also encourage a review

of the conditions which led to these poorly distributed loads.
Finally, this magnetic BN method has the advantages of
being rapid, suitable for the circular geometry of the rings,
and requiring no direct contact. Given the progress of our
research, we hope in the near future to move this method out
of the laboratory and into the industrial environment.


Fig. 9. Mapping of the Barkhausen noise level on the loading zones of A244
bearing inner rings after engine operation.

two rings. This lack of homogeneity and uniformity

probably comes from a heterogeneous distribution of the
loads on these inner rings during engine operation. On
mapping in Fig. 8, the load must have been located
essentially at the top of raceway, between 10 and 13 mm,
whereas mapping in Fig. 9 shows the load situated between
2 and 5 mm. This second load, however, must have been
less important than the previous one, given that the
Barkhausen level is higher. Clearly, the loads on the ring
introduce compressive stress, which has the effect of
reducing the level of BN.
These mappings allowed us to discover a significant
asymmetry in the surface stress distribution of the loading
zone, which explains the difference between the localized
X-ray diffraction measurements and the Barkhausen
estimations presented in Fig. 4. In addition, these mappings
highlight the importance of producing complete maps of
raceway stress distribution, because incomplete mappings
can hide possible asymmetries in the stress field.

7. Conclusion
In this article, we have presented a non-destructive
method based on the phenomenon of BN to identify SRS in
the contact zones between ball or roller bearings and their
raceways. Using X-ray diffraction as the method of
reference, we have shown the efficiency of BN for
estimating the fields of SRS on raceways after specific
pre-stress treatments and after engine operation. Some
mappings of the loading zones were created using BN.
These mappings show an uncentered load on the raceway of
the inner ring after engine operation. This observation is
especially important since it will not only allow the rejection
of a certain number of bearings during the maintenance

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