High resolution ultrasound for materials investigation

Researchers at the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences have developed a high resolution ultrasound system which could yield a cheaper alternative to CT scanning for materials analysis.

The new system generates sound via a reversed piezoelectric effect, said project chief Professor Dr Ferdi Hermanns. It has a high-frequency pulse generator and uses sound impulse bundling to focus the pulses.

“The original idea was a focused ultrasound pulse for measuring the back of the eye, but it has developed into a new way to focus ultrasound,” Prof Hermanns explained. He said that the test rig has a resolution of 50 micrometres with 15-20MHz signals, and that five to 10 micrometres should be possible with the frequency pushed to 35-40MHz.

The test rig is manually-controlled and produces 2D sections through a material – for example a section of yarn - floating in a water bath. It should be suitable for use on organics and other materials as long as their density is lower than say metal or hard plastic.

“The next step is to add real-time scanning, we also need to develop calibration materials. The final aim is to add software to produce 3D models,” Prof Hermanns added.  

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