An important emerging application is the characterisation of high-intensity focussed ultrasound (HIFU) fields used to destroy tissue abnormalities such as tumours. However, the precise mechanisms of destruction are not completely understood and there is increasing demand from academic and industry acousticians, as well as clinicians for new measurement tools. These need to able to measure both acoustic and thermal parameters and withstand the harsh environment of a HIFU field – requirements that our instrument can fulfil. There are also significant industrial applications. These include characterising transducers used for ultrasonic non destructive testing of engineering materials or processes such as ultrasonic cleaning and mixing. The technology is also expected to find application as a specialist measurement tool for basic research in areas such as metrology, sonochemistry, and laser generated ultrasound.
The Photoacoustic Imaging Group in the Department of Medical Physics & Bioengineering has a long standing and highly productive collaboration with a UK based SME, Precision Acoustic Ltd. This has led to the development of a new type of ultrasound measurement system based on a novel optical fibre sensor invented in the Department. The impact of this collaboration is several fold. First, it has reinforced Precision Acoustics’ competitive position at the forefront of ultrasound metrology since the technology is not available to their competitors. Second, it has made the technology available to a variety of end users who would otherwise not have access to it. These include hospital medical physicists performing safety-related compliance measurements, academic researchers studying ultrasound-tissue interactions in order to assess bioeffects or improve imaging performance and instrument manufacturers wishing to refine the design of their scanners.