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Toward virtual biopsy through an all fiber optic ultrasonic miniaturized transducer: a proposal

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4 Author(s)
Acquafresca, A. ; Dept. of Electron. & Telecommun., Florence Univ., Italy ; Biagi, E. ; Masotti, L. ; Menichelli, D.

The present generation of devices based on opto-acoustic and acousto-optic conversion lets us foresee the possibility of realizing complete miniaturized transmitting-receiving transducers, able to generate and detect wideband ultrasound by laser light. In the present paper, a miniaturized ultrasonic transducer entirely based on fiber optic technology is proposed. Such a device springs from the conjunction between our research, which has produced a highly efficient fiber optic opto-acoustic source, with the results obtained by other researchers concerning the realization of an ultrasonic receiver based on optical interferometry. Making use of the thermo-elastic effect for ultrasound generation, a source of ultrasound can be obtained by coupling an optical fiber to a pulsed laser, if a film capable of absorbing laser light is placed onto the fiber end. Starting from these remarks, we propose an efficient opto-acoustic source, able to generate pressure pulses with amplitude of the order of 10/sup 4/ Pa and bandwidth extending up to 40 MHz and beyond by using graphite materials as the absorbing film. This solution makes use of a low-power pulsed laser as an optical source possible. An ultrasonic receiving element was realized placing a Fabry-Perot cavity over the tip of an optical fiber. The cavity thickness modulation induced by the ultrasonic beam is detected by an interferometer optical technique. We have realized a prototype of a receiving device that exhibits a sensitivity comparable with that of piezoelectric devices (10-100 nV/Pa) and an almost flat bandwidth extending up to 20 MHz or more. The extreme miniaturization of the resulting ultrasonic transducer, together with its wide ultrasonic frequency bandwidth, is the first step toward ultrasonic tissue biopsy. In this paper, before discussing the problem of constructing a complete ultrasonic transducer composed by a transmitter and receiver, the results carried out in these fields during the last decade are revi- - ewed.

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Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:50 ,  Issue: 10 )