Medical ultrasound is a powerful diagnostic modality that is utilized for imaging a wide variety of internal body structures, particularly soft tissue. The majority of medical ultrasound procedures are non-invasive; however, the minimally invasive form of ultrasound or endoscopic ultrasonography, allows high resolution imaging of target tissues. These endoscopic ultrasound probes are usually piezo based transducers.
In the framework of Endostim, a BMBF funded project, Fraunhofer ENAS is working toward the development of highly miniaturized silicon based ultrasound transducers for diagnostic and therapeutic applications. These Capacitive Micromachined Ultrasonic Transducers (CMUTs) offer many advantages including wide bandwidth, small size and high thermal efficiency compared to piezo based transducers.
The developed CMUT devices will, in collaboration with two companies participating in the project, be integrated with CMOS based optics and associated control electronics into a »microscope« system for ultrasound assisted procedures.