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Personal Ultrasound Machine For Smartphone – Engineers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) have developed a new ultrasound transducer, or probe – no bigger than a band aid – that is portable, can be worn and can be supported by a smartphone.

Conventional ultrasound scanners use piezoelectric crystals to make images of the inside of the body and send them to a computer to make sonograms. Researchers replaced piezoelectric crystals with small vibrating drums made of polymer resins, called polyCMUTs (polymer capacitive micro-machined ultrasound transducers), which are cheaper to produce.

Personal Ultrasound Machine For Smartphone

“Drum transducers are usually made of rigid silicon material that requires high cost, environmentally controlled manufacturing processes, and this has hampered its use in ultrasound,” said lead author Carlos Gerardo, a doctoral student at UBC.

“By using polymer resins, we are able to produce polyCMUT in fewer fabrication steps, using a minimum amount of equipment, resulting in significant cost savings,” Gerardo added.

The sonograms produced by the new device are as sharp or even more detailed than the traditional sonograms produced by piezoelectric transducers, said co-author Edmond Cretu, professor of electrical and computer engineering.

“Because our transducers only need 10 volts to operate, they can be supported by smartphones, making them suitable for use in remote or low-power locations,” he added, in a paper detailed in the journal Microsystems and Nanoengineering.

Unlike rigid ultrasound probes, transducers have the potential to be built into flexible materials that can wrap around the body for easier scanning and more detailed views – without dramatically increasing costs.

The next step is to miniaturize this transducer and use it to look inside your arteries and veins. You can stick it to your chest and carry out continuous monitoring of your heart in your daily life. This opens up so many different possibilities, the researchers said.

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