Modern ultrasound devices have a good deal of high tech electronics inside, but these very electronics introduce their own problems and limitations. Size, heat, energy usage, interference with other imaging modalities are some of the issues that ultrasound designers have to balance.
There is another way, which involves using light to generate ultrasound waves within tissue being sampled, and also light for measuring the return signal. Such optical ultrasound technology has been attempted in the past, but now researchers at University College London are reporting in journal Biomedical Optics Express on a system they’ve developed that performs real-time 2-D ultrasound imaging of biological tissues using a purely optical setup and at a frame rate similar to video.
Of course this setup is still a good deal away from clinical use, as this is an early step for the technology, but the researchers are already working on translating it into prototype ultrasound probes for use on patients.
Some details according to The Optical Society:
The team tested their prototype system by imaging a deceased zebrafish, as well as a pig artery that they manipulated to emulate the dynamics of pulsing blood. The demonstration showed imaging capabilities comparable to an electronic high-frequency ultrasound system, with a sustained frame rate of 15 Hertz, a dynamic range of 30 decibels, a penetration depth of 6 millimeters and a resolution of 75 by 100 micrometers.
Study in Biomedical Optics Express: Video-rate all-optical ultrasound imaging…
Via: The Optical Society…