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German researchers develop world's smallest ultrasound detector

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | September 22, 2020
Parts And Service Ultrasound

The increase in imaging resolution could enable users to study ultra-fine details in tissues and materials, as well as the fundamental properties of ultrasonic waves and their interactions with matter on a scale not possible before.

In addition, the robustness and easy manufacturability of the silicon platform could allow for large numbers of detectors to be produced at a small fraction of the cost of piezoelectric detectors, enabling a number of different detection applications to be developed based on ultrasound waves.

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"The small footprint of the silicon chip is very attractive for intravascular and endoscopic applications, and those practices are likely to benefit first from the SWED," said Shnaiderman. "For comparison, clinical ultrasound detectors like the intervascular ultrasound commercially available from Boston Scientific have an area of ~ 1 mm square. On the other hand the SWED on the silicon chip has an area of less than 1 µm square. With minor modifications the SWED can be added alongside such detectors (or replace them altogether) to enable high-resolution optoacoustic endoscopy alongside the endoscopic ultrasound. This would enable much more detailed ultrasound image of the tissue with complementary absorption contrast."

The researchers are primarily focused on producing applications in clinical diagnostics and basic biomedical research but do note that the detection technology could be used for industrial applications too.

"The commercialization of the technology interests us a lot, and of course we would like to see it become part of commercially available devices, including clinical ultrasound systems," said Shnaiderman. "To achieve this we are improving certain aspects of the detector platform such as the sensitivity, and refining the readout of dense SWED arrays on a single chip. In parallel, we are looking into which applications will benefit the most from our technology."

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