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New Material Could Improve Ultrasound Technology

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An optical signal, represented by the red arrow, comes into contact with the metamaterial and interprets the ultrasound waves, resulting in an altered optical signal that is processed to produce a high-quality image. Image Credit: Texas A&M University.

Ultrasound technology could soon experience a significant upgrade that would enable it to produce high-quality, high-resolution images thanks to the development of a new key material by a team of researchers that includes a professor in Texas A&M University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering. The material, which converts ultrasound waves into optical signals that can be used to produce an image, is the result of a collaborative effort by Texas A&M Professor Vladislav Yakovlev and researchers from King’s College London, The Queen’s University of Belfast and the University of Massachusetts Lowell. The engineered material, known as a “metamaterial,” offers significant advantages over conventional ultrasound technology, which generates images by converting ultrasound waves into electrical signals, Yakovlev explains. The material, he notes, consists of golden nanorods embedded in a polymer known as polypyrolle. 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.