Vladislav Yakovlev, a professor at Texas A&M University, has helped to create a key material that will advance imaging in ultrasounds. He has worked in conjunction with researchers from three universities across the world to develop the discovery of this new material, known as metamaterial.
This newly created metamaterial consists of golden nanorods that are embedded in a polymer. When ultrasound waves are sent through the material, they are done so in conjunction with an optical signal. When this happens, the two interact and pass through the material. The altered optical signal can then be viewed as a much higher resolution image than ever before possible with existing ultrasound imaging technology.
According to a press release by Texas A&M University, Yakovlev says of the metamaterial he and other researchers created:
“We developed a material that would enable optical signal processing of ultrasound. 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. A high bandwidth allows you to sample the change of distance of the acoustic waves with a high precision. This translates into an image that shows greater detail. Greater sensitivity enables you to see deeper in tissue, suggesting we have the potential to generate images that might have previously not been possible with conventional ultrasound technology.”
Although the technology used in ultrasounds has advanced drastically over the decades, it still works by converting ultrasound waves into electrical signals, which are limited by bandwidth and sensitivity. This new metamaterial created by the Texas biotech researcher and his team will remove those limitations, allowing for a more detailed, deeper image. As a result, the ultrasound will be a better diagnostic tool not only for unborn fetuses, injuries and illnesses, but it could also assist in accelerating the effects of medications and in breaking up tissue.
Although the newly created metamaterial isn’t quite ready to be incorporated into existing ultrasound technology, it has been successfully demonstrated that it will be beneficial in the near future to enhance current biotech diagnostic tools.