Acoustic MEMS: Actively Switched Acoustic Delay-Lines Microsystems for Advanced Ultrasonic Imaging Applications
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The objective of this research is to achieve true time delays in the acoustic signal channels of ultrasonic transceivers by using a new micro acoustic delay-line system controlled by in-line micro-electromechanical-systems (MEMS) acoustic switches. Multiple channels of time-delayed acoustic signals will be transmitted or received without mixing with each other with a single-channel transceiver module. Therefore, the massive transceiver electronics widely used in today?s ultrasonic imaging systems could become unnecessary. The approach includes (1) understanding the ultrasonic wave mode propagation, conversion and attenuation in micro acoustic delay-line structures; (2) characterizing and optimizing the operating speed and insertion loss of MEMS acoustic switches; (3) establishing a predictive physics-based model and investigating control algorithms to further improve the acoustic switching performance; and (4) evaluating the ultrasonic beam-forming capability of the micro acoustic delay-line system. If successful, this research could enable new ultrasonic imaging systems with enhanced performance and portability while lowering power consumption and cost. Moreover, the new ultrasonic imaging systems would be able to accommodate a variety of functional components to enable advanced multimodal sensing and imaging modalities in a single compact package. Application areas include ultrasonic imaging applications in medicine, industry, civil engineering and military. The multidisciplinary nature of this research is expected to provide unique learning and training opportunities. Teachers and students from underrepresented school districts from grades 7-12 will be reached out to through the Enrichment Experiences in Engineering and the Discover Engineering programs at the Texas A&M University, and the Infinity Project and the Kids Ahead program at the Southern Methodist University. Research results will be incorporated into the principle investigators? curriculum development at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and will be disseminated through journal/conference publications and outreach activities to the research community and general public.