The technique has been developed by using customized metamaterial structures that offset the distortion caused by aberrating layers.

The technique can be used for ultrasound imaging and therapeutically, such as using ultrasound to apply energy to brain tumors, in order to burn them.

Some materials such as bone or metal feature physical characteristics, which block or distort ultrasound’s acoustic waves, and these materials are called aberrating layers.

Researchers have solved this problem by designing customized metamaterial structures that take into account the acoustic properties of the aberrating layer and offsetting them.

To achieve the desired acoustic characteristics, the metamaterial structure uses a series of membranes and small tubes.

Using computer simulations, the researchers have tested the technique. They are in the process of developing and testing a physical prototype.

North Carolina State University Ph.D. student and lead author of a paper on the work, Tarry Chen Shen said: "We’ve designed complementary metamaterials that will make it easier for medical professionals to use ultrasound for diagnostic or therapeutic applications, such as monitoring blood flow in the brain or to treat brain tumors."

Image: North Carolina State University researchers develop new technique that can be used for ultrasound imaging. Photo: courtesy of Yun Jing.