Science and Technology

A cheaper, better and homemade ultrasound scan

| | Updated on: Nov 07, 2021
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IIT professor uses satellite technology to improve the quality of ultrasound image

A professor at IIT Madras has adopted satellite technology to make cheaper and better ultrasound scans.

Modern satellites use ‘synthetic aperture radar’, or SAR, for imaging the ground from above — a contrivance that lets them image a large area without losing the sharpness of the picture. SAR uses the motion of the radar antenna (as it is mounted on an aircraft or a satellite) to image what lies below; it works by sending pulses of radar beams and collecting the echoes.

Prof Arun Kumar Thittai of the Department of Applied Mechanics, who earlier worked on ultrasound systems and is currently involved with biomedical devices, has incorporated principles of SAR into ultrasound scans. This, he admits, has been attempted before, but is workable today because of the increase in computing power.

While conventional ultrasound devices shoot a sound beam more like a line, Thittai’s ‘advanced synthetic transmit and receive aperture’ (ASTARA) technology throws a “divergent beam” over a larger area (called ‘insonification’, which means ‘to flood a target area with sound waves’). What you then get is a better image; and the device would be cheaper than the current imported ones.

Thittai told Quantum that the development of the product was at a ‘technology readiness level of 3’, which means the ‘proof of concept’ has been done. He says a commercial product was likely within a year-and-a-half.

Published on November 07, 2021

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