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Seeing Beyond: The Future of Photoacoustic Imaging with Single-element, Low-frequency Thin-film PMUT

TitleSeeing Beyond: The Future of Photoacoustic Imaging with Single-element, Low-frequency Thin-film PMUT
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2024
AuthorsParamanick, A, Roy, K, Paul, S, Kumar, A, Ashok, A, Pratap, R, Singh, MSuheshkuma
JournalIEEE Sensors Letters
KeywordsGraphite, Image quality, Imaging, Phantoms, Resonant frequency, Signal to noise ratio, Ultrasonic imaging

For the first time, we present photoacoustic (PA) imaging using a single-element (single-cell) piezoelectric micromachined ultrasound transducer (PMUT) with a low resonant frequency of approximately 1 MHz and a compact effective aperture as tiny as 0.06 mm 2 . Adding to this innovation, we introduce pioneering image enhancement techniques applied directly to images obtained from this standalone single-cell PMUT, aiming to elevate and refine PA image quality. Our approach employs a trio of advanced methods: 1) frame averaging to ensure clarity by reducing image clutter; 2) cutting-edge mathematical algorithms to fine-tune image quality metrics; and 3) precise hardware positioning for accurate image capture. These techniques underwent rigorous validation using both agar phantom and ex-vivo tissue samples. As benchmarks for our progress, we utilized quantifiers including full width at half maximum (FWHM), signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), and contrast ratio (CR). Our results were striking: a 34% improvement in FWHM, a 23% boost in SNR, and a 25% enhancement in CR. These numbers clearly demonstrate the efficacy of our methods in optimizing PA images through a low-frequency PMUT-based detector. In conclusion, our research indicates that these enhancement methods could be instrumental in shaping a cost-effective and efficient future for PMUT-based photoacoustic imaging (PAI) systems.