FUSE researchers /

Cohort 3 (2021)

I’m Saja Al Ani, a PhD student in the Future Ultrasonic Engineering (FUSE) CDT. I have completed a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, followed by an M.Sc. degree in E-learning Technology from the University of Hertfordshire. Since joining the EPSRC Centre of Doctoral Training FUSE in the year 2021, I have gained a great deal of knowledge and experience in ultrasonic engineering. I developed an understanding of the latest developments in ultrasonic technology and their impact on a variety of applications during this comprehensive programme.

The use of ultrasound for medical applications, as well as artificial intelligence’s role in advancing ultrasound research, are topics of my research interest. As part of my research, I am examining the use of ultrasound for speech disorders via tongue imaging and developing illustrative models of type (i.e., “correct”) tongue configurations. In particular, this research helps access children with cleft lip and palate, who produce a wide range of unusual speech errors.  

Primary Supervisor (University of Glasgow): Dr. Ahmed Zoha
Secondary Supervisor (University of Strathclyde): Dr. Joanne Cleland
Project External Partner: NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde

Wearable Ultrasound Sensors for SonoMyoGraphy in Robotic Prosthesis and Augmentation

I’m Priyanka Dhiwa, a graduate from Amity University India with a Bachelor and Master of Technology degree (Distinction) in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. Following a year internship at National Physical Laboratory (NPL), India, my Master’s project involves “Electrocaloric effect of ferroelectric polycrystalline ceramics for solid-state Refrigerator”.

SonoMyoGraphy (SMG) is the use of an ultrasonic transducer (10 MHz) to measure muscle activity. It is an alternative to electromyography (EMG) offering non-invasive and higher spatial resolution. SMG is a promising technique for muscle condition diagnosis, rehabilitation engineering, prosthesis control, and augmentation. The difficulty of distinguishing between the muscle action of the primary muscle and that of neighbouring muscles and the inefficiency of scanning deeper muscles are two of the most significant drawbacks of employing EMG. 

The overall aim of my PhD project, a collaboration between the FUSE CDT and Neuranics, is to propose device designs for the SMG application by combining the capacitive micromachined ultrasonic transducer (CMUT)-based sensors with integrating readout circuitry in modern CMOS technology. The readout circuitry for CMUT sensors in sub-mm diameter chips provides on-chip signal conditioning, such as amplification, filtering, noise cancellation, and drift cancellation. 

The main activities in this PhD project are: 

  • Develop a fundamental knowledge of muscle structure and function. 
  • Investigation and design of various building components for ASIC design for the CMUT interface, including transceiver, power management, analogue front end (LNA, low pass filter), digitization backend (ADC), and so on. 
  • Study the circuit’s significant trade-offs and contributions, such as power consumption, noise generation, operating bandwidth, dynamic range, and prototype potential improvements. 
  • Simulation, schematics and layout design, implementation using the Cadence Spectre 
  • Test and characterisation of developed CMUT-interface chip 

Primary Supervisor (University of Glasgow): Prof. Sandy Cochran
Secondary Supervisor (University of Strathclyde): Prof. James Windmill
Project External Partner: Neuranics

Development of US based device for intracranial ventriculostomy

I graduated with a MD diploma from Medical University of Lublin, English Division, in 2016 and subsequently worked as a doctor, initially in Poland as an intern and then as a Foundation Trainee in Glasgow for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. After a further year as a Clinical Fellow in Orthopaedics, I studied Biomedical Engineering at Strathclyde University, with my thesis being ultrasound-based. Currently I’m working less than full time as a GP trainee and devoting the rest of my time to FUSE.
I became interested in FUSE as I wanted to combine both my medical and engineering backgrounds and always had special interest in ultrasonics from the first time I held an ultrasound transducer as a medical student.

My special interest areas are medical ultrasound including detection of pathologies, elastography and HIFU.

My project will involve looking at the development of ultrasound-based device for intracranial ventriculostomy for external ventricular device (EVD) placement to aid surgeons during this procedure, simplify and automate it as well as to improve patient outcomes and safety. Currently an additional burr hole needs to be drilled into the skull to gain ultrasound views, and this is time consuming and more involved, although slowly becoming the gold standard. Ultrasound allows for much better positioning of the EVD device, reducing the rate of repeat attempts and misplacement. By creating a dedicated device which would give the surgeon good views while not impeding the urgency of the procedure will certainly be welcome. I look forward on working on the project.

Primary Supervisor (University of Glasgow): Prof. Sandy Cochran
Secondary Supervisor (University of Strathclyde): Prof. James Windmill
Project External Partner: Astroin

I achieved distinction in MSc Mechanical Engineering (Design) from Glasgow Caledonian University. I have a BEng (Hons) in Mechanical Engineering with thorough hands-on experience in design, manufacturing and testing within the space sector. By undertaking a successful 9-month work placement at Airbus Defence and Space in Germany, along with an Honours Project in partnership with the company, I developed both my technical and professional skills.

My aspirations lied in progressing my engineering career through pursuit of specialist training and research at PhD level in the field of Ultrasonic Engineering and achieve Chartership status with the IMechE. FUSE CDT is the first academic ultrasonic engineering programme worldwide which would provide me with an exciting opportunity to become a subject-matter expert in this field. Additionally, the programme linked their training to the Monitored Professional Development Scheme (MPDS), which will ensure opportunities, monitoring and feedback are available to allow me to apply for CEng. This is a gold standard of excellence across industry and academia and highly valued by partners and clients.

The inspection of complex industrial components represents a challenge for traditional ultrasonic inspection methods, where manual inspection can be challenging and is usually time-consuming. Moreover, some inspections use radiography, which usually requires clearance of personnel from the area to be inspected due to risks of radiation exposure. Thus, an automated inspection system incorporating a highly flexible ultrasound array could offer a potential solution for future inspection applications.  

This research project will investigate how an innovative and highly flexible ultrasound array transducer, commonly known as the Novosound Kelpie, can be employed to inspect challenging industrial components. The major deliverables of this collaborative PhD research project include: 

  • Consider customised Kelpie array configurations for inspection of appropriate industrial components. 
  • Develop bespoke mechanical systems to manipulate the sensor to ensure full operation in areas of restricted access and across complex surface profiles.
  • Acquire high fidelity ultrasonic data from components.
  • Produce 3D images of components under inspection. 

Primary Supervisor (University of Strathclyde): Prof. Tony Gachagan
Secondary Supervisor (University of Glasgow): Dr Koko Lam
Project External Partner: Novosound

My name is Yijia Hao. I graduated from the Glasgow UESTC in 2021 with B.Eng. (Hons) in Electronics and Electrical Engineering with Information Engineering. My research interests include deep learning, attention mechanism and application of machine learning in the field of ultrasound.

I am working on ultrasonic circuit design and AI-empowered ultrasonic circuit design tools. 

Ultrasound systems are designed differently for various purposes. Research innovation and industrial revolution of electronics is overwhelmingly demanded for improving ultrasound system performance. For ultrasound analog front-end, it incorporates both receiver circuitry and transmitter circuitry which can activate transducers with high voltage pulses. Typically, there are four components in a receiver circuit, i.e., an analog-to-digital converter, an antialiasing filter, a variable gain amplifier and a low-noise amplifier. New circuits can be designed to meet increasingly stringent specifications. 

Methods to improve time performance is also in urgent need. Today’s electronic industry competition is so fierce, the production cycle and cost must be effectively controlled to improve the competitiveness of products. 

Therefore, my research will be focusing on ultrasound circuit topology design, and AI tools for fast-to-market ultrasound applications. 

Primary Supervisor (University of Glasgow): Dr. Bo Liu
Secondary Supervisor (University of Strathclyde): Dr. Graeme West

My name is Aasim Mohamed. I am a Mechatronics Engineer with a few years of experience in steel fabrication industry, dealing with industrial control systems (ICS), sensors and instrumentation devices. Thanks to that experience, I was able to upscale my career and perceive the complexities within manufacturing and measurement fields. I hold a BSc (Hons) in Mechatronics Engineering from the Future University in the Republic of Sudan, and an MSc in Mechatronics Engineering at De Montfort University in Leicester with distinction. During my master’s, I gained more knowledge and interest in smart systems, robotics, machine vision and flexible automation.

My PhD research project will focus on developing a sensor-enabled robotised plasma arc cutting system.

What is Plasma?

Plasma is a high-energy ionized gas, which is identified as the fourth state of matter. We typically think of three states of matter: solid, liquid and gas. The difference between these states is their relative energy levels. If we take ice as an example, after adding energy to a certain level in the form of heat. The ice melts to form water and then vaporizes into a gas. If you were to add considerably more energy to the steam to heat it up, the steam would break up into several component gases and would become ionized or electrically conductive. The plasma system can produce temperatures approaching 22,000 °C with a velocity that can reach the speed of sound. In comparison, the surface of the sun is about 5,500 °C. Fascinating!

The plasma arc system takes advantage of that to melt and expel material to cut conductive metals. The system can cut at high speed with precision and low cost, which makes it ideal to be used for steel structure applications, shipbuilding and repair, decommissioning process, pipe profiling and weld joints preparation. However, there are some disadvantages. Plasma cutting may require secondary processing to remove the heat-affected material. Also, depending on the job, the plasma machine may require additional setup changes, which could be costly and time-consuming. Metal fabrication has played a vital role in the technological advancement of humankind. There is always a need for improvement in the automation and digitization of manufacturing processes, and demands for moving towards the fourth industrial revolution 4.0.

The project will focus on optimizing a robotised plasma arc-cutting system for weld joints preparation and repair process. The preparation process of surfaces before welding is critical in ensuring a joint’s integrity. There are several types of weld joint configurations, including Edge joint, Butt joint, Tee joint, Corner joint and Lap joint. Currently, most techniques include mechanical and thermal cutting that requires manual settings and operations, leading to a higher operating cost and lower productivity. Here comes ultrasound technology to play a role in improving the process and meeting the demands of industry 4.0. The use of ultrasound technology will help in increasing operational safety, quality control and production efficiency of systems alongside digitizing the process. Therefore, deploying ultrasound phased array technology to automate the parameters adjustment process of plasma arc cutting and ensure the bevelling cut precision could help in optimizing the process in terms of accuracy, cost, productivity, and complex shape cutting. Making smart systems smarter!

It is a valuable opportunity for me to be part of FUSE CDT and conduct my research under the largest academic ultrasound engineering unit in the world, and contribute to help in tackling the existing challenges and adopting ultrasound technology and methods in new areas within industry.

Primary Supervisor (University of Strathclyde): Prof. Charles MacLeod
Secondary Supervisor (University of Glasgow): Prof. Patrick Harkness
Project External Partner: Kuka Robotics

I’m Agnes. My background is in software development and IT, specifically in marine IT systems. After putting my seafaring days behind me, I graduated from University of Glasgow with a BEng in Electronic and Software Engineering in 2021.

While ultrasound imaging is harmless for the patient, HIFU (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound) is used to focus ultrasound waves, similarly to focusing sunlight with a magnifying glass to deliver a large amount of energy to a single point. Unlike sunlight, ultrasound waves pass through the patient’s body and can be used to destroy internal tumours through thermal ablation at the focal point. The challenges of this method of surgery stem from non-homogenous nature of human tissue – varying densities of organs, the body’s internal thermal regulation, and movement arising from breathing and heartbeat affect the targeting of HIFU pulses. Additionally, it is not currently possible to determine internal temperature of tissue with ultrasound alone, requiring expensive magnetic resonance (MRI) guidance during the procedure to deliver the correct amount of energy.  

Working with my external partner, Acoustiic, the initial stage of my research is looking at the thermal effects of focused ultrasound pulses applied onto phantom (synthetic) tissue using machine learning methods. The overall aim of the project is to generalise the findings toward use with human tissue for predicting and guiding optimal time, intensity, and position of focused ultrasound pulses to ablate tumorous tissue without affecting surrounding healthy tissue for incision free surgery of liver cancers. 

Primary Supervisor (University of Glasgow): Dr. Kevin Worrall
Secondary Supervisor (University of Strathclyde): Dr. Gaetano di Caterina
Project External Partner: Acoustiic

Hello, I am Andrea Orthodoxou and I am in the first year of the FUSE CDT program as a postgraduate researcher. I graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2021 with an MEng in Biomedical Engineering. During my time as an undergraduate I have had the chance to expand my knowledge and interest in ultrasonics. It is fascinating how the oldest imaging modality can be used for so many different applications in so many different fields.

LIPUS is a therapeutic form of ultrasound that delivers ultrasonic waves in a pulsed-mode and at low intensities. It has minimal thermal effects that is typically useful for rehabilitation purposes such as  bone regeneration and soft tissue healing. It is approved by the FDA and NICE as an adjunct treatment that aims to reduce healing time and assist regeneration in bone healing after fracture to avoid bone non-unions. Although there are no major safety concerns in the currently approved LIPUS devices, randomised control trials demonstrated contradictory results regarding its effectiveness for bone healing. 

Bone healing is a complicated regenerating process that may take up to 6 months to complete.  The mechanical properties of the injured area change during the healing process, which implies that the interaction of the ultrasonic mechanical waves with the fractured bone would differ over the  period of regeneration. It could be that these mechanical changes in bone tissue have an impact on LIPUS effectiveness. Further, the biological processes that are stimulated upon fractured bone exposure to LIPUS are vaguely demonstrated in the literature, leaving many gaps that need to be  addressed before LIPUS effectiveness can be fully appreciated. Recent evidence suggests that cells can sense the ultrasonic waves via integrin receptors and translate the signals into biological changes through mechanotransduction and the Rho/ROCK/ERK signalling pathway. 

The aim of my PhD project is to develop personalised LIPUS treatment that effectively enhances bone fracture healing to avoid bone non-unions. To achieve this, first it is necessary to study if indeed the temporal mechanical changes that happen during bone healing influence what is  experienced by the bone cells. This will be done by using equipment from my industrial partner Polytec (Germany). If this is the case, we can then look into how the LIPUS device parameters (i.e. intensity, pulse cycle) can be tuned to enhance its effect on cells without inducing thermal effects to  the tissue. This will also aid further understanding on the biological changes that happen upon LIPUS exposure. 

Primary Supervisor (University of Glasgow): Dr Helen Mulvana
Secondary Supervisor (University of Strathclyde): Prof. James Windmill
Project External Partner: Polytec

In 2021 I completed my EEE Bachelors at Strathclyde University and immediately after applied for FUSE CDT due to the overlap in concepts with my RADAR based project. My work is researching a bio-inspired acoustic transmitter based on the novel way that Micronecta scholtzi makes its calls – by using its air supply as a secondary amplification source! So my goal is to find out how to harness bubbles or bubble like structures to produce a large amplitude broad-spectrum output with a much smaller amplitude output transducer source. Larger sounds for lower power cost! I’m excited to get stuck in and use COMSOL to simulate the various different possible configurations and then to utilise metamaterials to hold bubbles in place in an experimental setting. It’s all very exciting! Hope I can make it work! 
 
When I’m not thinking about bubbles you can usually find me picking up some new weird hobby like archery, blacksmithing or swinging a big mace around, making music or pretending I can still draw like I used to. 

Primary Supervisor (University of Strathclyde): Prof. James Windmill
Secondary Supervisor (University of Glasgow): Dr. Paul Prentice
Project External Partner: Thales

I studied mechanical engineering during my Bachelor’s. During those 4 years, I learned various mechanical, basic knowledge like solid mechanics, fluid dynamics, and so on. After my graduation, I went to work, first, as project manager, controlling factory’s product quality and process control. Later I worked as a mechanical engineer designing mechanical parts. Then, I started my Master’s study, focusing on non-destructive testing especially in ultrasound technology.

FUSE is a group of passionate people who are aimed at developing new technology to make the application of ultrasound really comes to people’s daily life and thus change the world. That is inspiring and really attractive, I am quite fond of the creative environment of FUSE and the guidance from my professors as well, who are really helpful.

My areas of research interest include non-destructive testing, medical use, and new UT instrument design. There is a growing need to capture multi-parameter data for a new generation of high-performance ultrasonic water metering technology. Physical parameters including pressure, temperature, water quality, and the internal geometry of meters all influence the quality of measurement data. This project will investigate innovations in ultrasonic transducer and meter designs to drive a new generation of ultrasonic water meters, focusing on how multiple physical properties can be captured by a single device, to build a complex picture of the flow measurement environment.

To engineer ultrasonic transducers (or devices incorporating ultrasonic transducers), able to simultaneously capture multiple high-quality data streams, across pressure, temperature, (accurate) time of flight, and others which can be identified as the project progresses. The objectives are broad, and they can be refined for the benefit of the student. For example, some technical scoping / literature review will be vital in the early stages, and the student can study how to optimize transducers to reduce crosstalk or interference with other transducers or structures inside the measurement environment.
Tasks
· Design and fabricate new ultrasonic measurement transducer concepts for measurement in water with different physical characteristics (such as pressure, temperature, and quality). One option may be a design based on the flexural ultrasonic transducer.
· Investigate and understand the influence of different environmental parameters, such as pressure and temperature, on the dynamic performance of the ultrasonic transducers. Steps to mitigate undesirable influences will be proposed.
· Characterise and understand the impact of the new transducers on high-performance (for example with respect to accuracy) flow measurement. This objective will require the development and promotion of new signal-processing strategies
depending on the environmental fluid.
· Innovate solutions for capturing the physical properties of a system, through fluctuations in the dynamic performance of the transducers. Advanced materials (phase transforming and metamaterials) can be considered to apply – they might provide unique opportunities to capture other data previously not possible, and it would be interesting if a cost-effective (or practical/realistic) solution for incorporating such materials could be proposed.

Primary Supervisor (University of Glasgow): Dr. Andrew Feeney
Secondary Supervisor (University of Strathclyde): Prof. Tony Gachagan
Project External Partner: Honeywell – Luton, UK

Metamaterials applied to biomedical ultrasound

I am a MEng Biomedical Engineering graduate from the University of Glasgow with a keen interest in the use of ultrasonic techniques within a medical field, particularly within surgical procedures and investigating how tissues respond to ultrasound. During my Masters project I also gained experience in biomaterial formulation and mechanical testing. I am therefore eager to study the materials involved in ultrasonic surgery and how these can be optimised. I am hoping to find a project that combines these interests with the aim of combating challenges such as the improvement of post-operative outcomes for patients and providing ease of use for surgeons through potential ‘smart’ materials.

Metamaterials are those which have been engineered to have properties not found in natural materials. They are made up of repeated structures called unit cells that are constructed from standard materials. It is the structure that determines the bulk material properties, as opposed to the innate properties of the material used. Acoustic metamaterials in particular have the potential to enhance sound production and manipulation. This is because the unit cells can replicate the presence of atoms or molecules, having a size close to that of the wavelength of interest. 

For biomedical applications of ultrasound, the benefit of acoustic metamaterials is that they have the capability for small scale design while still operating over a wide range of frequencies. This enables the production of miniaturised transducers, such as those used in catheter ultrasound probes, that do not experience a compromise in performance. Acoustic metamaterials could be employed in many components inside an ultrasound transducer, including the backing and matching layers, as well as the active material that drives the acoustic output. The properties of these components could also be enhanced, beyond what is achievable with standard acoustic materials. 

There is an abundance of theoretical studies into metamaterials in the literature, but to be able to incorporate these materials into ultrasound transducers, more practical studies need to be carried out. 

The objectives of my project are: 

  1. To explore the existing knowledge on both acoustic metamaterials and biomedical transducer design, with a view of fusing this knowledge.
  2. To understand the design requirements and constraints involved in creating biomedical ultrasonic transducers and identify key themes for improvement.
  3. To design and create metamaterials that could potentially improve biomedical ultrasound performance and size.

Primary Supervisor (University of Strathclyde): Prof. James Windmill
Secondary Supervisor (University of Glasgow): Dr. Andrew Feeney
Project External Partner: GE – Nice, France

My name is Vedran and I am a PhD student at the FUSE CDT. In 2019 I completed my master’s degree in Power and Process Engineering at the University of Zagreb. To reflect my passion for music and sound, I also pursued a degree in Audio Engineering and Production. Following my work as an engineer, I took the opportunity to move to Scotland and start my academic journey in a new and challenging field. 

Currently, I am working with the SEARCH team at the University of Strathclyde and Spirit AeroSystems on automated ultrasound data processing. The main aims of this project are to tackle current bottlenecks in NDT and explore the use of AI technologies in the real-time analysis of ultrasonic signals for defect detection and characterisation in complex composite materials. 

When I am not busy with my studies, you will probably find me exploring Scotland, enjoying music, or grabbing a cup of coffee near the botanical gardens with my family. 

Primary Supervisor (University of Strathclyde): Dr. Ehsan Mohseni
Secondary Supervisor (University of Glasgow): Prof. Sandy Cochran
Project External Partner: Spirit Aerosystems – Prestwick, UK