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This paper presents a nonparametric approach to failure detection of broken rotor bars in inverter-fed induction motors (IMs). We lay the mathematical foundation for a diagnostic model of a rotor bar fault that captures the rotor bar high-frequency (HF) characteristics. The model shows that the HF equivalent motor resistance can be used as a direct indicator of broken rotor bars. It should be emphasized that the proposed detection methodology is applicable to any shape of rotor slot design by incorporating the idea of synchronous reference frame based injection and by taking the HF resistance as the fault detector. The proposed detection technique is also insensitive to other motor parameters and is effective under arbitrary load conditions. The full time-domain-based signature process provides efficient detection and enhances fault isolation. The identification scheme was implemented and tested on an inverter-fed 1.5-kW IM.