★ Receive beamformer architecture for broadband imaging systems using FIR filters. ★ Simulation results show contrast resolution increases by as much as 20 dB. ★ FIR beamformer appears robust to moderate phase aberration.
This paper proposes a novel receive beamformer architecture for broadband imaging systems that uses unique finite impulse response (FIR) filters on each channel. The conventional delay-and-sum (DAS) beamformer applies receive apodization by weighting the signal on each receive channel prior to beam summation. Our proposed FIR beamformer passes the focused receive radio frequency (RF) signals through multi-tap FIR filters on each receive channel prior to summation. The receive FIR filters are constructed to maximize the contrast resolution of the system's spatial response. The broadband FIR beamformer produces spatial point spread functions (PSFs) with narrower mainlobe widths and lower sidelobe levels than spatial PSFs produced by the conventional DAS beamformer.
We present simulation results showing that FIR filters of modest tap lengths (3–7) can yield marked improvement in image contrast and point resolution. Specifically we show that 7-tap FIR filters can reduce sidelobe and grating lobe energy by 30 dB and improve contrast resolution by as much as 20 dB compared to conventional apodization profiles. This improvement in contrast resolution comes at the expense of a decrease in beamformer sensitivity. We investigate the effects of phase aberration and show in simulation results that the multi-tap FIR beamformer outperforms the unaberrated DAS beamformer by 8–12 dB even in the presence of moderate aberration characterized by a root-mean-square strength of 28 ns and a full-width at half-maximum correlation length of 3.6 mm. We show experimental results wherein multi-tap FIR filters decrease sidelobe energy in the resulting 2D spatial response while achieving a narrow mainlobe. We also show results where the FIR beamformer improves the contrast to noise ratio (CNR) in simulated B-mode cyst images by more than 4 dB. Our algorithm has the potential to significantly improve ultrasound beamforming in any application where the system response is reasonably well characterized. Furthermore, this algorithm can be used to increase contrast and resolution in one-way beamforming systems such as acousto-optic and opto-acoustic imaging.