Micromachined transducer arrays for improved ultrasound imaging

Unmet Need

With the surge of minimally invasive surgeries comes the demand of improved imaging techniques to assist in obtaining successful outcomes. Intravascular (catheter-based) ultrasound has emerged as a leading imaging technology for minimally invasive procedures. Globally, there are over 180 million ultrasound-procedures performed annually. Currently, most ultrasound imaging technology is limited by the transducer arrays bandwidth within the physical dimensions of the probe. As the desired frequency increases, the thickness of the vibrator element must be reduced. Below a certain thickness and surface area, the conventional process destroys the vibrator elements as they are being cut. Therefore, there is a need for improved ultrasound imaging arrays having smaller sizes and having ultrasound transmission and reception capability at higher frequencies, while reducing both the size and cost of the equipment.

Technology

Duke inventors have developed an improved transducer array for ultrasonic imaging. This is intended to be used for catheter-based ultrasound imaging to assist in medical procedures. Specifically, the inventors have developed piezoelectric micromachined ultrasound transducers (pMUTs) that can be arranged into ultrasound arrays of specific sizes and geometries finely tuned to specific fundamental mode vibrations. The imaging array utility has been demonstrated with a catheter-based ultrasound probe obtaining real-time 3-D (4-D) in vivo images of adult porcine hearts.

Advantages

  • Reduction in size of array elements
  • Increase sensitivity of array elements
  • Reduce cross coupling among array elements
  • Extended bandwidth of array elements
  • Reduce cost of array production
  • Reduces lower frequency rumble