3D Printed Photoacoustic and Laser-generated Ultrasound Probes for High Resolution Imaging
Allocated in Academic year 2015-16
Minimally invasive clinical procedures are increasingly replacing surgical interventions to acquire information about the body and to perform therapy. In this context, acquiring local information about tissue microstructure to guide medical device placement can be critical to ensure that patient outcomes are positive.
Photoacoustic (PA) imaging and laser-generated ultrasound (LGU) are modalities that are increasingly being investigated for use in minimally invasive procedures. Both involve generating ultrasound with pulsed or modulated light. With PA imaging, light is delivered to tissue; with LGU, light is delivered to optically absorbing materials such as carbon-PDMS nanocomposites so that ultrasound is transmitted into tissue.
This project is centred on the use of a micrometre-scale 3D printing technique to fabricate miniature PA and LGU probes. The printing technique is completely bespoke and involves using a direct-write approach to pneumatically force the printing ‘ink’ – i.e., a functional precursor of the desired structure to be 3D printed e.g. a nanoparticle suspension for printed metallic structures or a polymer/nanoparticle dispersion leading to a nanocomposite to be used in LGU. A particular emphasis will be placed on printing lenses on the tips of optical fibres that can focus light and/or ultrasound.
The project will include translation of the concept from proof-of-concept data on the lab bench, to integration into medical devices that are used in vivo. It will be carried out in close collaboration with clinical collaborators from the UCL Institute for Women’s Health, who will provide specific expertise in the field of fetal medicine.
The student is expected to be interested in experimental and biomedical physics. Prior experience with optics, ultrasound, fluid mechanics or microfabrication would be beneficial, but it is not required.
Methodological Portfolios Involved