In other words, this new material may enable ultrasound devices to see what they haven't yet been able to see. That advancement could significantly bolster a technology that is employed in a variety of biomedical applications. In addition to being used for visualizing fetuses during routine and emergency care, ultrasound is used for diagnostic purposes in incidents of trauma and even as a means of breaking up tissue and accelerating the effects of drugs therapies.
While Yakovlev's research is not yet ready for integration into ultrasound technology, it has successfully demonstrated how conventional technology can be substantially improved by using the newly engineering material created by his team, he notes.
The material, he notes, consists of golden nanorods embedded in a polymer known as polypyrrole. An optical signal is sent into this material where it interacts with and is altered by incoming ultrasound waves before passing through the material. A detection device would then read the altered optical signal, analyzing the changes in its optical properties to process a higher resolution image, Yakovlev explains.
"We developed a material that would enable optical signal processing of ultrasound," Yakovlev says. "Nothing like this material exists in nature so we engineered a material that would provide the properties we needed. It has greater sensitivity and broader bandwidth. We can go from 0-150 MHz without sacrificing the sensitivity. Current technology typically experiences a substantial decline in sensitivity around 50 MHz.
"This metamaterial can efficiently convert an acoustic wave into an optical signal without limiting the bandwidth of the transducer, and its potential biomedical applications represent the first practical implementation of this metamaterial."
|Contact: Ryan Garcia|
Texas A&M University