A Micromachined Silicon Parallel Acoustic Delay Line (PADL) Array for Real-Time Photoacoustic Tomography (PAT)
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2015 SPIE. To achieve real-time photoacoustic tomography (PAT), massive transducer arrays and data acquisition (DAQ) electronics are needed to receive the PA signals simultaneously, which results in complex and high-cost ultrasound receiver systems. To address this issue, we have developed a new PA data acquisition approach using acoustic time delay. Optical fibers were used as parallel acoustic delay lines (PADLs) to create different time delays in multiple channels of PA signals. This makes the PA signals reach a single-element transducer at different times. As a result, they can be properly received by single-channel DAQ electronics. However, due to their small diameter and fragility, using optical fiber as acoustic delay lines poses a number of challenges in the design, construction and packaging of the PADLs, thereby limiting their performances and use in real imaging applications. In this paper, we report the development of new silicon PADLs, which are directly made from silicon wafers using advanced micromachining technologies. The silicon PADLs have very low acoustic attenuation and distortion. A linear array of 16 silicon PADLs were assembled into a handheld package with one common input port and one common output port. To demonstrate its real-time PAT capability, the silicon PADL array (with its output port interfaced with a single-element transducer) was used to receive 16 channels of PA signals simultaneously from a tissue-mimicking optical phantom sample. The reconstructed PA image matches well with the imaging target. Therefore, the silicon PADL array can provide a 16 reduction in the ultrasound DAQ channels for real-time PAT.