Laser beam shaping and hydrogels - enhancing laser ultrasound for translation into clinical use

PI: Brian Anthony, Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT

The research goal of this proposal is to help advance laser ultrasound (LUS) imaging from our first human demonstration to a clinically viable technology. LUS imaging has several advantages over current medicalultrasound: elimination of liquid coupling mediums and probe-to-body contact, operator-independentimage quality, and fast deformation free volumetric imaging. Our prior work established the feasibility of LUS for human imaging at safe optical exposure levels. LUS performance is limited by the intrinsic optical properties of the skin. By adding a surface treatment layer, we will remove the skin dependency and directly control optical parameters that influence LUS performance. By shaping the laser beam we will further control the resulting ultrasound beam. In this proposal, we will design and characterize mechanisms – hydrogels and beam shaping – which increase the LUS source bandwidth and improve the detector sensitivity; enhanced LUS performance will be quantified against conventional ultrasound on a clinical standard. Successful improvements in LUS image resolution and quality will be a significant step toward clinical translation of LUS technology.

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