Grant: $144,873 - National Institutes of Health - Aug. 7, 2009
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Award Description: The goal of the proposed program is to address several technical feasibility questions (in Phase I), and then demonstrate (in a subsequent Phase II) incorporation of Sonetics' groundbreaking CMUT-in-CMOS ultrasound transducer technology into a novel, high-performance 2D ultrasound array suitable for commercial applications. Phase I specific aims will investigate bandwidth improvement for 2D array elements, scaling and enhancement of on-chip readout circuits, and reduction of dielectric charging effects related to device membrane sealing layers. This phase will culminate with the fabrication and characterization of a 64-element 2D array prototype, which will be used to evaluate the imaging potential of a larger scale array. Full implementation into a prototype scanhead (including a 128x128 element CMUT array) suitable for real-time 3D imaging would be demonstrated in Phase II, with the long-term goal of commercializing the technology (as well as other CMUT-in-CMOS-based products) for the ultrasound equipment market, forecast to be $3.75B globally by 2010. The academic segment of this market would benefit from the practical realization of fully-populated 2D ultrasound arrays, which will improve the quality and speed of 3D imaging for disease diagnosis. As well, the potential of CMUT-based scanheads to reduce the largest cost element of many state-of-the-art ultrasound systems, while simultaneously exhibiting improved imaging capability, will provide increased opportunity for researchers and students to undertake real-time, in vivo studies of living systems-something 3D ultrasound is uniquely positioned to do from a cost, availability, and convenience perspective (vs. MRI, PET, or CT, for example, all of which require expensive, dedicated facilities and technicians). The clinical market stands to gain similarly, as 3D ultrasound provides safe, convenient, real-time imaging technology-enabling improved triage and better patient outcomes, lower-cost imaging, and reduced staffing needs, all of which will serve the U.S. healthcare industry well as it seeks to control skyrocketing costs. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: Potential benefits to public health from the successful development of Sonetics' novel ultrasound transducer technology include: improved availability and affordability of high-quality 3D medical imaging for disease diagnosis; improved medical training as low-cost 3D ultrasound enters the classroom; and lowered health-care costs for society as a whole, as better ultrasound improves clinical triage and patient outcomes. Furthermore, ultrasound is the only technology with the potential to become a convenient, safe, real-time imaging tool for use in limited-budget facilities such as low-income health clinics.
Project Description: The goal of this program is to demonstrate a commercially viable technology for realizing wide-bandwidth 2D arrays for 3D ultrasound imaging. Phase I efforts are addressing several technical risks and demonstrate the feasibility of using Sonetics? CMUT-in-CMOS elements to produce affordable 2D arrays with excellent performance. Subsequent Phase II efforts would target a full-scale 128x128 array and demonstrate the integration of CMUT-in-CMOS technology into a scanhead suitable for 3D pulse-echo imaging. Project aims and milestones are summarized here: AIM 1: Develop a wide-bandwidth 2D transducer array element using CMUTs fabricated in a standard sub-micron CMOS process. Milestone: 2D array elements, fabricated in a sub-micron CMOS process, with adequate sensitivity and greater than 80% fractional bandwidth. AIM 2: Adapt transducer readout circuit designs to sub-micron CMOS process. Milestones: (1) Scaled version of previous circuit designs, suitable for sub-micron CMOS fabrication, (2) Designs of test circuits for time-gain control and sample-and-hold functions. AIM 3: Identify a device sealing approach that promotes high membrane compliance while minimizing deleterious charging effects. Milestone: Selection of best material and structure combination to minimize charging effect and maximize receive sensitivity. AIM 4: Simulate, design, and fabricate a wide-bandwidth 8x8 CMUT array using with sub-micron CMOS technology. Milestone: Fabrication of an 8x8 planar array, incorporating wide-bandwidth CMUT elements and circuits scaled for the sub-micron CMOS manufacturing process. AIM 5: Characterize array performance and perform experiments/modeling to predict image performance of a large scale 2D array. Milestone: Side-by-side images from reconstructed array data and acoustic field simulations.
Jobs Summary: Jobs retained include 30% of a Senior R&D Engineer, 56% of a Senior Circuit Design Engineer, and a fraction (2%) of senior level management. (Total jobs reported: 1)
Project Status: Less Than 50% Completed
This award's data was last updated on Aug. 7, 2009. Help expand these official descriptions using the wiki below.