Nav: Home

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

December 05, 2016

Scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have developed a new ultrasound device that produces sharper images through 3D printed lenses.

With clearer images, doctors and surgeons can have greater control and precision when performing non-invasive diagnostic procedures and medical surgeries.

The new device will allow for more accurate medical procedures that involve the use of ultrasound to kill tumours, loosen blood clots and deliver drugs into targeted cells.

This innovative ultrasound device is equipped with superior resin lenses that have been 3D printed.

In current ultrasound machines, the lens which focuses the ultrasound waves are limited to cylindrical or spherical shapes, restricting the clarity of the imaging.

With 3D printing, complex lens shapes can be made which results in sharper images. The 3D printed lenses allow ultrasound waves to be focussed at multiple sites or shape the focus specially to a target, which current ultrasound machines are unable to do.

Industry partners keen to develop commercial applications

The novel ultrasound device was developed by a multidisciplinary team of scientists, led by Associate Professor Claus-Dieter Ohl from NTU's School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.

The ultrasound device had undergone rigorous testing and the findings have been published in Applied Physics Letters, a peer-reviewed journal by a leading global scientific institute - the American Institute of Physics.

With this breakthrough, the NTU team is now in talks with various industry and healthcare partners who are looking at developing prototypes for medical and research applications.

Associate Professor Claus-Dieter Ohl said, "In most medical surgeries, precision and non-invasive diagnosis methods are crucial. This novel device not only determines the focus of the wave but also its shape, granting greater accuracy and control to medical practitioners."

Overcoming current limitations

Ultrasound waves are produced by firing sound waves at a glass surface or 'lens' to create high-frequency vibrations.

In conventional ultrasound machines, the resulting heat causes the lens to expand rapidly, generating high frequency vibrations that produce ultrasound waves.

With lenses that are 3D printed, the new ultrasound device overcomes the limitations of glass. Customised and complex 3D printed lenses can be made for different targets which not only results in better imaging, but are cheaper and easier to produce.

"3D printing reinvents the manufacturing process, enabling the creation of unique and complex devices. In turn, the way medical devices are created needs to be rethought. This is an exciting discovery for the scientific community as it opens new doors for research and medical surgery," said Assoc Prof Ohl.

This breakthrough taps into an ultrasound market which is expected to grow to about US$ 6.9 billion by 2020. It is also expected to promote new medical techniques and research opportunities in health sciences such as surgery, and biotechnology.

For example, researchers could use the sound waves to measure elastic properties of cells in a petri dish, seeing how they respond to forces. This will be useful for example, to distinguish between harmful and benign tumour cells.

"This is a very promising breakthrough, potentially offering significant clinical benefits including to the field of cancer imaging. This technology has the potential to reduce image distortions and more accurately differentiate cancerous from non-cancerous soft tissue," said Adjunct Assistant Professor Tan Cher Heng, LKCMedicine Lead for Anatomy & Radiology and Senior Consultant with the Department of Diagnostic Radiology at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
-end-
Media contact:

Nur Amin Shah
Assistant Manager (Media Relations)
Corporate Communications Office
Nanyang Technological University
Email: aminshah(at)ntu.edu.sg

About Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It has a new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London.

NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes - the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering - and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI).

Ranked 13th in the world, NTU has also been ranked the world's top young university for the last two years running. The University's main campus has been named one of the Top 15 Most Beautiful in the World. NTU also has a campus in Novena, Singapore's medical district.

For more information, visit http://www.ntu.edu.sg

Nanyang Technological University

Related Ultrasound Articles:

World's first ultrasound biosensor created in Australia
Most implantable monitors for drug levels and biomarkers invented so far rely on high tech and expensive detectors such as CT scans or MRI.
Ultrasound can make stronger 3D-printed alloys
A study just published in Nature Communications shows high frequency sound waves can have a significant impact on the inner micro-structure of 3D printed alloys, making them more consistent and stronger than those printed conventionally.
Full noncontact laser ultrasound: First human data
Conventional ultrasonography requires contact with the patient's skin with the ultrasound probe for imaging, which causes image variability due to inconsistent probe contact pressure and orientation.
Ultrasound aligns living cells in bioprinted tissues
Researchers have developed a technique to improve the characteristics of engineered tissues by using ultrasound to align living cells during the biofabrication process.
Ultrasound for thrombosis prevention
Researchers established real-time ultrasonic monitoring of the blood's aggregate state using the in vitro blood flow model.
Ultra ultrasound to transform new tech
A new, more sensitive method to measure ultrasound may revolutionize everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles.
Shoulder 'brightness' on ultrasound may be a sign of diabetes
A shoulder muscle that appears unusually bright on ultrasound may be a warning sign of diabetes, according to a new study.
Ultrasound-firewall for mobile phones
Mobile phones and tablets through so-called audio tracking, can be used by means of ultrasound to unnoticeably track the behaviour of their users: for example, viewing certain videos or staying in specific rooms and places.
Designing a new material for improved ultrasound
Development of a theoretical basis for ultrahigh piezoelectricity in ferroelectric materials led to a new material with twice the piezo response of any existing commercial ferroelectric ceramics, according to an international team of researchers from Penn State, China and Australia.
Atomic structure of ultrasound material not what anyone expected
Lead magnesium niobate (PMN) is a prototypical
More Ultrasound News and Ultrasound Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.