Ultrasonic Imaging Using Optoelectronic Transmitters

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Conventional ultrasound scanners utilize electronic transmitters and receivers at the scanner with a separate coaxial cable connected to each transducer element in the handle. The number of transducer elements determines the size and weight of the transducer cable assembly that connects the imaging array to the scanner. 2-D arrays that allow new imaging modalities to be introduced significantly increase the channel count making the transducer cable assembly more difficult to handle. Therefore, reducing the size and increasing the flexibility of the transducer cable assembly is a concern. Fiber optics can be used to transmit signals optically and has distinct advantages over standard coaxial cable to increase flexibility and decrease the weight of the transducer cable for large channel numbers. The use of fiber optics to connect the array and the scanner entails the use of optoelectronics such as detectors and laser diodes to send and receive signals. In transmit, optoelectronics would have to be designed to produce high-voltage wide-bandwidth pulses across the transducer element. In this paper, we describe a 48 channel ultrasound system having 16 optoelectronic transmitters and 32 conventional electronic receivers. We investigated both silicon avalanche photodiodes (APD's) and GaAs lateral photoconductive semiconductor switches (PCSS's) for producing the transmit pulses. A Siemens SI-1200 scanner and a 2.25 MHz linear array were used to compare the optoelectronic system to a conventional electronic transmit system. Transmit signal results and images in tissue mimicking phantoms of cysts and tumors are provided for comparison.

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