Skip to Main Content
A wide variety of beamforming approaches are applied in modern ultrasound scanners, ranging from optimal time domain beamforming strategies at one end to rudimentary narrowband schemes at the other. Although significant research has been devoted to improving image quality, usually at the expense of beamformer complexity, we are interested in investigating strategies that sacrifice some image quality in exchange for reduced cost and ease in implementation. This paper describes the direct sampled in-phase/quadrature (DSIQ) beamformer, which is one such low-cost, extremely simple, and compact approach. DSIQ beamforming relies on phase rotation of I/Q data to implement focusing. The I/Q data are generated by directly sampling the received radio frequency (RF) signal, rather than through conventional demodulation. We describe an efficient hardware implementation of the beam-former, which results in significant reductions in beam-former size and cost. We present the results of simulations and experiments that compare the DSIQ beamformer to more conventional approaches, namely, time delay beamforming and traditional complex demodulated I/Q beam-forming. Results that show the effect of an error in the direct sampling process, as well as dependence on signal bandwidth and system f number (f#) are also presented. These results indicate that the image quality and robustness of the DSIQ beamformer are adequate for low end scanners. We also describe implementation of the DSIQ beamformer in an inexpensive hand-held ultrasound system being developed in our laboratory.