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A CMUT probe for medical ultrasonography: from microfabrication to system integration

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3 Author(s)
Savoia, A.S. ; Dipt. di Ing. Elettron., Univ. degli Studi Roma Tre, Rome, Italy ; Caliano, G. ; Pappalardo, M.

Medical ultrasonography is a powerful and costeffective diagnostic technique. To date, high-end medical imaging systems are able to efficiently implement real-time image formation techniques that can dramatically improve the diagnostic capabilities of ultrasound. Highly performing and thermally efficient ultrasound probes are then required to successfully enable the most advanced techniques. In this context, ultrasound transducer technology is the current limiting factor. Capacitive micromachined ultrasonic transducers (CMUTs) are micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS)-based devices that have been widely recognized as a valuable alternative to piezoelectric transducer technology in a variety of medical imaging applications. Wideband operation, good thermal efficiency, and low fabrication cost, especially for those applications requiring high-volume production of small-area dice, are strength factors that may justify the adoption of this MEMS technology in the medical ultrasound imaging field. This paper presents the design, development, fabrication, and characterization of a 12-MHz ultrasound probe for medical imaging, based on a CMUT array. The CMUT array is microfabricated and packed using a novel fabrication concept specifically conceived for imaging transducer arrays. The performance of the developed probe is optimized by including analog front-end reception electronics. Characterization and imaging results are used to assess the performance of CMUTs with respect to conventional piezoelectric transducers.

Published in:

Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:59 ,  Issue: 6 )

Date of Publication:

June 2012

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