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A limited ability to discriminate between different materials is the fundamental problem with all conventional eddy-current-based metal detectors. This paper presents the use, evaluation and classification of nontraditional excitation signals for eddy-current metal detectors to improve their detection and discrimination ability. The presented multi-frequency excitation signals are as follows: a step sweep sine wave, a linear frequency sweep and sin(x)/x signals. All signals are evaluated in the frequency domain. Amplitude and phase spectra and polar graphs of the detector output signal are used for classification and discrimination of the tested objects. Four different classifiers are presented. The classification results obtained with the use of poly-harmonic signals are compared with those obtained with a classical single-tone method. Multifrequency signals provide more detailed information, due to the response function – the frequency characteristic of a detected object, than standard single-tone methods. Based on the measurements and analysis, a metal object can be better distinguished than when using a single-tone method.
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