SBIR Phase I: Multifunctional materials for ultrasound diagnosis
This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project targets multifunctional meta-materials having acoustic impedance equal to tissue and optimized for solid-state tactile sensing. Optimized multifunctional performance of these newly developed meta-materials includes enhanced mechanical, acoustic and self-sensing response. The innovation of the proposed approach is in building two hierarchical levels of the material microstructure: (1) a meta-structured layer which is photo-lithographically patterned with specified features and (2) meta-structural elements which are comprised of aligned chains of nano-inclusions. The proposed manufacturing approach can be applied to a wide range of polymeric systems. However, this project targets materials which are suitable for biomedical applications and are compatible with clean-room processing. Critical manufacturing steps which will be developed and verified during the proposed Phase I research efforts include mixing nano-inclusions in polymeric photoresist, spinning polymer layers, aligning inclusions by electric field, and photolithographically defining meta-structures. The acoustic, mechanical and electro-active properties of the resulting materials will be experimentally verified. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project will be the fostering of novel approaches in ultrasound screening and medical diagnosis. The intended commercial application of the proposed materials is for acoustically transparent sensing layers in tactile sensing arrays, where this material has the potential to operate in front of an ultrasound transducer without adversely affecting imaging performance. A primary near-term impact of these new tactile sensing technologies will be the availability of contact pressure feedback signals during the ultrasound imaging procedure. Such tactile feedback would allow the operator to correct his/her mistakes and enable telemedicine through operation of diagnosis equipment by inexperienced users or remotely. This will improve the accuracy and broaden the utility of ultrasound as a diagnostic tool. Combining ultrasound imaging and tactile sensing also has the potential to revolutionize biopsy-free screening of breast and prostate cancers, reducing discomfort to patients and lowering the overall cost of the medical screening. Finally, an overall increase in the efficiency of ultrasound probes will enable highly efficient and portable ultrasound instruments. This would improve medical screening worldwide, especially in low-income areas, in small hospitals, and in point-of-care settings.
Small Business Information at Submission:
5835 Schumann Dr Fitchburg, WI 53711-5176
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