A Low-Power, Low-Cost, High-Performance Beamformer for Medical Ultrasound Scanners

Award Information
Department of Defense
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Award Year:
Phase I
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Solicitation Year:
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Small Business Information
Q-dot, Inc.
1069 Elkton Drive, Colorado Springs, CO, 80907
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Thomas Linnenbrink
(719) 590-1112
Business Contact:
() -
Research Institution:
Ultrasonic imaging is the preferred method for noninvasive tissue examination and real-time blood flow analysis. Foreign items (e.g., radiolucent shrapnel) embedded in the body can also be imaged. While this would greatly aide combat field medics and civilian emergency medical technicians, current ultrasound scanners are too large, heavy, and power-consumptive for battery operation. Major scanner functions' size, weight, and power must be significantly reduced for portable operation. The beamformer dynamically focuses, apodizes, and steers both transmitted and received ultrasonic wave forms. Modern beamformers typically utilized an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) at each element, followed by digital memory and signal processing circuitry. The beamformer is amenable to the extensive size, weight, and power reduction possible using charge-couple device (CCD) technology. This technology is integrable with conventional CMOS. The proposed beamformer provides the same functionality as digital designs but at 1% their size, weight, power, and for 10% their cost, while increasing resolution ten-fold. During Phase I, the CCD/CMOS beamformer's feasibility will be assessed. A preliminary beamformer design will be developed in coordination with TRP and industry personnel. A prototype beamformer will be fabricated and evaluated during Phase II. During Phase III, the beamformer will transition to production in military and commercial ultrasound scanners. Anticipated Military Benefits/Potential Commercial Applications of the Research or Development: The resulting beamformer will provide ten times the performance for 1/10 the cost of conventional designs. Portable ultrasound scanners are thus feasible for use by combat medics in the battlefield and civilian emergency medical technicians. Clinical ultrasound systems and portable ultrasound scanners for manufacturing lines will also be made feasible by this innovative CCD beamformer.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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