Smallest Ultrasound Detector in the World Developed

CIOReviewIndia Team | Monday, 21 September 2020, 04:35 IST

SWEDWorld’s smallest ultrasound detector gets developed by a team of European researchers. The ultra sound detector is based-on miniaturized photonic circuits, placed on the top of a silicon chip.

Compared to the size of an average human hair, the detector is 100 times smaller and can visualize features with much smaller than previously possible, which leads to ‘super-resolution imaging’ as said by the team from Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Germany.

Silicon photonics technology is widely used to miniaturise optical components and densely pack them on the small surface of a silicon chip.

Capitializing on the advantages of miniaturized photonic circuits, the researchers built the world’s smallest ultrasound detector - Silicon waveguide-etalon detector (SWED).

The detector – SWED, monitors changes in light intensity that propagates through miniaturized photonic circuits.

Rami Shnaiderman, SWED developer, said, "This is the first time that a detector smaller than the size of a blood cell is used to detect ultrasound using the silicon photonics technology. If a piezoelectric detector was miniaturised to the scale of SWED, it would be 100 million times less sensitive.”

By reducing the size, the researchers have made it higher resolution, which can offer smaller, densely packed one or two dimensional ultrasound arrays with augmented ability to discriminate features in the imaged tissue or material.

Professor Vasilis Ntziachristos, research team leader, said, “The degree to which we were able to miniaturise the new detector while retaining high sensitivity due to the use of silicon photonics was breathtaking."

SWED is also 200 times smaller than ultrasound wavelength implemented, giving it the capacity to visualize features that are smaller than one micrometre.

It will be useful for developing a number of different detection applications based on ultrasound waves.

Shnaiderman said, "We will continue to optimize every parameter of this technology - the sensitivity, the integration of SWED in large arrays, and its implementation in hand-held devices and endoscopes."

 Primarily aiming for applications in clinical diagnostics and basic biomedical research, researchers state that industrial applications may also benefit from the new technology.

Researchers said that the imaging resolution may lead to studying ultra-fine details in tissues and materials.

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