We describe characterization of digital signals using analogs of thermodynamic quantities: the topological entropy, Shannon entropy, thermodynamic energy, partition function, specific heat at constant volume, and an idealized version of Shannon entropy in the limit of digitizing with infinite dynamic range and sampling rate. We show that analysis based on these quantities is capable of detecting differences between digital signals that are undetectable by conventional methods of characterization based on peak-to-peak amplitude or signal energy. We report the results of applying thermodynamic quantities to a problem from nondestructive materials evaluation: detection of foreign objects (FO) embedded near the surface of thin graphite/epoxy laminates using backscattered waveforms obtained by C-scanning the laminate. The characterization problem was to distinguish waveforms acquired from the region containing the FO from those acquired outside. In all cases the thermodynamic analogs exhibit significant increases (up to 20-fold) in contrast and for certain types of FO materials permit detection when energy or amplitude methods fail altogether.