Pulsed thermography (PT), being simple and fast, remains one of the most popular thermographic NDE techniques, though it has intrinsic limitations. An alternative method is suggested and named frequency modulated thermal wave imaging (FMTWI), where the heating waveform phase relations are adjusted over a bandwidth (B) in such a way, that a chirp (frequency modulated) signal of duration T, with much reduced peak power is produced. FMTWI, while retaining all characteristics of lock-in thermography, has the added advantage of overcoming the blind frequency problem. It can be processed by matched filtering (pulse compression) to improve sensitivity. © 2012 American Institute of Physics.