Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

From securing stealth to ensuring health

27.06.2003


A material used to protect submarines from sonar detection is the latest technological breakthrough in ensuring the safe and effective dose of ultrasound in medicine. Practitioners and thousands of patients in physiotherapy departments worldwide will benefit from the latest technology, which will ensure a step forward in the reliability of delivered ultrasound treatment.



The material forms a key component in a novel desk-top ultrasound power meter developed by the UK’s national standards laboratory, The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) of Teddington, UK, in partnership with one of the leading manufacturers of ultrasound measurement equipment, Precision Acoustics Ltd (PA), Dorchester, UK.

An estimated 10,000 physiotherapy ultrasound units are currently in use in the UK alone. Key to ensuring that patients are receiving the most effective treatment for their soft tissue injuries is the assurance that the equipment delivers the correct level of ultrasound power. Physiotherapists will benefit from the latest measurement development to carry out their everyday treatments.


Maintaining accuracy of these devices is crucial to safety of patient treatment in both private and public sectors. Currently, the only way to guarantee the outputs of the physiotherapy devices is through costly measurement equipment retailing at around £1,500 to £2,500 and which are only suitable for use by trained hospital physicists

The new power meter provides the /answer in a matter of seconds. Compact and easy-to-use, the new device, which retails at under £400 (excl VAT), is smaller than an average shoe-box and will enable physiotherapists to conduct their own health-checks on ultrasound equipment each time they use it.

By simply placing the treatment head - the part of the physiotherapy equipment, which is applied to the patient’s body - in the water-filled well in the top of the device, the practitioner can check instantly that the equipment is delivering the right amount of power. The patient can be sure that they are receiving the best and most effective treatment.

“Until now, the only methods for checking equipment, have been too complex and costly for application at user level, either in the NHS or in private practice. The power meter was developed in response to demand for a cheaper and more user-friendly measuring system than those currently available. It is a good example of NPL partnering the instrumentation sector to deliver innovative measurement technologies” says Dr Bajram Zeqiri, Head of the Medical and Industrial Ultrasound Group at NPL.

The low cost and user-friendliness of the power meter makes it a very attractive alternative to the systems currently in use. Terri Gill, Managing Director of PAL. said,
“Once the device reaches the market, we anticipate a huge demand and with larger scale production to meet this demand, we expect the costs will eventually be even lower. Together with NPL , we are now looking into the feasibility of integrating the new system into future design for physiotherapy ultrasound equipment. Some manufacturers have already expressed interest.”

Scientists at NPL and PAL are very excited about the new technology as it looks to be flexible, offering the potential for application in a whole range of future measuring devices, from inexpensive, lower-accuracy devices such as the newly developed ultrasonic power meter, to more sophisticated meters which might replace traditional radiation force measuring devices. Dr Zeqiri adds, “The method looks to be fairly sensitive which means it might be developed to detect low ultrasonic powers, perhaps even down to a few mW or so.”

Key to the simplicity, efficiency and low cost of the power meter are the principles and materials used in its construction.

To address the problem of cost, NPL needed to find an alternative to conventional methods of measuring radiation force as a means of verifying the accuracy of ultrasound equipment. Conventional measuring devices (radiation forcebalances ) offer a highly accurate measurement of power output (to between ±7% and ±10% - well within the ±20% specified standard for physiotherapy ultrasound equipment), but are cumbersome, and costly to manufacture. More importantly, physiotherapists are not trained in the use of such equipment and have to rely on the availability of medical physicists to carry out the tests. Equipment is time-consuming to set up and, taking at least 15 minutes to carry out the check. This represents an ineffective use of practitioners’ time.

Working in partnership with PAL, NPL looked into the viability of using solid-state principles - rather than radiation force measurement - to achieve a measuring system. Using the known pyroelectric properties of polyvinylidene fluoride (pvdf) and the specially designed polyurethane rubber material, the team came up with a device which is not only considerably cheaper to produce, but which has the added advantage of being portable and extremely simple to use.

The power meter consists of a plastic cup-shaped vessel approximately 100mm in outside diameter and 40mm deep, the upper chamber of which is filled with tap water. A thin membrane of pvdf, only tens of microns thick, is stretched across the upper chamber of the vessel. This membrane is backed with a polyurethane rubber derived from a material originally developed for use as anti sonar-detection or ‘stealth’ coatings on submarines. At the frequencies of interest, this unique material acts as an acoustical absorber capable of absorbing more than 80% of the ultrasonic power within 1mm of the front surface of the absorber. Pic/diag here?. The acoustic energy produced by the treatment head is absorbed within the top surface of the rubber, resulting in a rapid increase of temperature of both the absorber surface and the adjacent pvdf film. Due to the pyroelectric response of the polymer film a voltage is simultaneously generated across the electrodes of the pvdf. The electronic circuitry which captures the largest voltage generated by the thin film, as a measure of the generated power, is neatly encased in the lower chamber of the vessel.

Noor Kheir | alfa
Further information:
http://www.powermeter.co.uk

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth
17.11.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Pluto's hydrocarbon haze keeps dwarf planet colder than expected
16.11.2017 | University of California - Santa Cruz

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>