A team of researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen have developed the world’s smallest ultrasound detector, the silicon waveguide-etalon detector, or SWED. The ultrasound detector is 100 times smaller than an average human hair and can visualize features that are much smaller than previously possible. Researchers developed the device using the silicon photonics technology, which is a departure from the previously used piezoelectric tech.

The world’s smallest #ultrasound detector based on #photoniccircuits on top of a silicon chip, half a micron in size, enables super-resolution imaging, visualizing smaller features than ever before: https://t.co/UWnV3HL9AO #medicalimaging #biologicalimaging #SWED #nanophotonics

Researchers have said that the previously used detection technology on piezoelectric detectors would not have been as sensitive as the latest one because if it was miniaturized. However, silicon photonics technology is able to produce high-resolution images as it has the ability to confine light in dimensions smaller than the optical wavelength. The SWED is also up to 200 times smaller than the ultrasound wavelength employed, which means that it can be used to visualize features that are smaller than one micrometer, leading to what is called super-resolution imaging.

“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 miniaturized to the scale of SWED, it would be 100 million times less sensitive,” says Rami Shnaiderman, developer of SWED said in a release on TUM’s website.

While the researchers are primarily aiming for applications in clinical diagnostics and basic biomedical research, industrial applications may also benefit from the new technology. The increased imaging resolution may lead to studying ultra-fine details in tissues and materials. The SWED could be also used to study fundamental properties of ultrasonic waves and their interactions with the matter on a scale that was not possible before, said the team of researchers.

Source: https://www.republicworld.com/technology-news/other-tech-news/worlds-smallest-ultrasound-detector-developed-by-german-researchers.html

World, Ultrasound, Research, Medical imaging

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