Skip to Main Content
This paper presents the first monolithic multidirection-looking ultrasonic imager for minimally invasive medical diagnosis. In contrast to the traditional planar ultrasonic imagers that can only view in one direction, this 3-D array is able to view in multiple directions by using seven planar imagers integrated on a hexagonal silicon prism. Each facet on the prism is integrated with a planar 1- or 2-D capacitive-micromachined ultrasonic-transducer imager array for viewing in a specific direction. Each facet is connected by a flexible dielectric membrane, which is monolithically fabricated with the transducers. The dielectric membranes also support the thin-film electrical interconnects between the arrays on different facets. The substrate is folded into a hexagonal prism after completion of the transducer microfabrication process. With this architecture, a one flip-chip bonded or monolithically integrated front-end electronic circuit will be able to manage all the imagers on the 3-D array. The number of bonding wires for a connection to external electronics can therefore be reduced. Imager prisms, which are ranging from 1 to 4 mm in diameter and 2 to 4 mm in length, and positioned to view in seven directions, have been prototyped. Preliminary testing shows that the imager transducers behaved consistently before and after the assembly process. Applications of this 3-D imager array include capsule ultrasound endoscope, intravascular ultrasound, and other internal imaging needs.