FUSE researchers /

Cohort 4 (2022)

The investigation of textured piezoelectric ceramics for maritime applications

Sonar technology is the primary imaging method used for underwater applications. Most of these systems rely on ultrasonic transducers, with the piezoelectric material being the main component for ultrasound generation and detection. Innovation in such materials is crucial for achieving further performance improvements in ultrasonic devices.

The aim of my project, in collaboration with Ultra Maritime, is to explore the suitability of novel and high performance textured piezoceramics for use in ultrasonic transducers for maritime environment applications. This will involve characterising the material(s) under both ambient and representative operational maritime conditions, and finally implementing them in an engineered sonar prototype. The project aims to collaborate with another FUSE project to prototype a sonar solution with integrated system-on-chip electronics.

Project External Partner: Ultra Maritime

Co-Chair –FUSE Annual Meeting 2024

Cavitation-augmented perfusion in Peripheral Arterial Disease

Diabetes UK reported a significant (22.4%) rise in diabetes-related minor lower limb amputations in England, between 2015 and 2018. Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) occurs due to a build-up of fatty deposits (atherosclerosis) within the lower extremity arteries, restricting blood flow and circulation, particularly to the feet. PAD is a major and increasing risk factor for diabetic patients. Ultrasound contrast agents are suspensions of stabilized microbubbles, originally developed for intravascular injection to provide contrast during diagnostic ultrasound imaging. Recently, research seeking to exploit contrast agent microbubbles as cavitation nuclei for therapeutic purposes, such as blood-clot dissolution for the treatment of Ischemic Stroke, has intensified. Microbubble cavitation is thought to microvascular obstructions and promote reperfusion. My project will seek to develop cavitation-augmented perfusion for the treatment of PAD, that may ultimately be administered at home by the patient.

Project External Partner: Mindray

Ultrasonic thickness measurement for automating the laser cutting process

The aim of this project is to investigate how ultrasound can be used to measure the thickness of materials to help automate the laser-cutting process. This can be used to provide feedback to a control system that allows the laser to adjust the amount of output power to match the power required for an optimal cut. Thicker workpieces require more energy from the laser to cut than thinner workpieces. Robots can perform repetitive tasks with greater accuracy and repeatability than human operators, making them an ideal choice for controlling the path of the laser cutting system to ensure the most efficient path plan. The external partner for this project is the National Nuclear Lab (NNL) who are interested in the research for nuclear decommissioning. The project is based in the SEARCH lab at Strathclyde.

Project External Partner: National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL)

Investigation of mechanisms to control the longitudinal and torsional mode vibration response of an ultrasonic transducer

This project aims to develop a control that allows ultrasonic devices to both operate in a longitudinal mode and torsional mode independently of one another while being able to exist within the same device coherently. After a review of the current combined methods of developing the LT (Longitudinal & Torsional) devices, the niche where a switchable LT device can exist will be researched to find if it is worth continuing this project further. The next major step would be to develop a design that can support torsional piezoelectric rings and investigate their incorporation into designs for a switchable-mode transducer. OnScale will be used to create finite element analysis (FEA) models of a switchable mode ultrasonic transducer to test and configure. These models would allow the further analysis of the transducers overall design and performance before heading on to the next step of prototyping and validation.

Project External Partner: CeramTec

Accurate Defect Sizing and Characterisation for Automated In-Process Welding and WAAM Inspection

Phased array technology has revolutionized the field of automated in-process welding and Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) inspection by enabling defect detection. This advanced technique has the potential to be more reliable in defect sizing and characterization, providing detailed information about defects in real-time. The effect of high temperature and noise associated with the automated process is considered the main challenge in this project.

The aim of project is to review the sizing and calibration process in ultrasonic phased array for welding and WAAM inspection (room temperature and high temperature), to research and develop different offline and online calibration methods to enhance the detection and sizing measurements accuracy level using robotically delivered Ultrasound Phased Array Roller Probe Technology, and to research and develop calibration and compensation techniques for high temperature dry coupled inspection.


Ultrasonic Control of Welding Processes

Welding is the joining of materials to create continuous internal structures with the application of heat or pressure. It is an important step in a variety of sectors, from the marine to the oil and gas industry. Control and automation of the process are important, to increase throughput and ensure high quality. The quality is dependent on the characteristics of the liquid material, and subsequent solidification. However, the variability in heat input due to movement errors and incorrect process parameters lead to defects. Ultrasonic in-process monitoring can be used to extract both melt pool and fusion information in run-time, and correct the trajectory of an articulated robot, as well as process variables. The novelty lies in the monitoring of the internal joint structure, which cannot be extracted with other existing methods, such as cameras and spectrometers. Phased arrays will be used to acquire volumetric data during deposition, which will then be used in a feedback control loop.

Project External Partner: Babcock International Group

Treasurer – FUSE Annual Meeting 2024

Ultrasonic transducer design for H2 & other unconventional gases/blends to enable a sustainable energy future for all

Hy-Met Ltd was founded in January 2021 as a forward-thinking technology startup. The company is dedicated to developing cutting-edge instrumentation to address the complexities of future energy measurement challenges. Their approach involves creating revolutionary products that integrate state-of-the-art hardware and software technologies. The main objective of this research project is to conduct essential research on the design of ultrasound transducers for the emerging industrial hydrogen metering requirement, specifically focusing on devices capable of operating under high pressure conditions. The project primarily entails utilizing FEA simulation to investigate the behaviour of a novel ultrasonic transducer design intended for use with pressurized hydrogen and its blends. The second phase of the project involves constructing a proof-of-concept prototype and characterizing the novel transducers to generate and receive robust ultrasonic signals for measuring hydrogen and other unconventional gases. Finally, the transducer prototype will be tested in real-world plant environments, within hydrogen loops at client sites, to demonstrate the practicality of using this design for gases under elevated pressures.

Project External Partner: Hy-Met

High-frequency ultrasound for skin imaging

I will be working with the external industry partner DERMUS which is a company that is involved in skin imaging. While the project has not started and there is clear direction yet, from the first meeting with the company, four potential stand out routes were highlighted as keen areas of interest for the company. The first being the use of arrays within the context of high frequency ultrasound. The second being the use of transparent transducers and the potential that brings for multimodality imaging. Third being the use of lead-free transducers for skin imaging and finally, the use of ultrasound therapy for skin lesions. Whilst I will be the one undertaking the project, it is important to work with and understand the needs of industry.

Project External Partner: Dermus, Hungary 

System on Chip (SoC) development for maritime technologies

The aim of my project is to develop microelectronics solutions for maritime sensing, in collaboration with Ultra Maritime. Sonar is the major tool for ships and submarines in navigating and mapping, among other uses, the underwater environment. Thus, optimising the device remains a continuous aim of the industry. The Sonar consists of an Ultrasonic transducer and the electronic system responsible for generating and detecting the electrical signal. The System on a Chip technology will be used in order to optimise the electronic system of the device. This means that all the required components will be integrated on to a single chip. Therefore, while the system maintains the same functions as before, it can have higher performance, lower consumption and occupy a much smaller area.

Project External Partner: Ultra Maritime

Industrialisation of emerging ultrasound technologies for veterinary imaging.

Identifying novel and emerging ultrasound technologies which can reduce the hardware complexity of conventional ultrasound scanners. Implementing digital signal processing, software and firmware solutions to develop an ultrasound platform to cover the wide range of veterinary needs with minimal resources. Potentially utilising techniques such as synthetic aperture, software beamforming, ASICs and electronics miniaturisation alongside GPU implementation to improve imaging quality and system capacity.

Project External Partner: IMV

Co-Chair –FUSE Annual Meeting 2024

Novel Ophthalmic Ultrasound System Development

My research programme will focus on developing phantom modelling and simulations of the eye that will be compatible with Keeler type ophthalmic ultrasound probes and imaging systems. The emphasis of this prototype phantom will be on the theoretical and physical modelling of the retina, to accurately recognise retinal tears and detachments using ultrasound probes. Retinal detachments are relatively rare, but serious eye conditions, which can cause loss of vision if left undiagnosed and untreated.

After the first discussion about the topic with the company, the project will take the initial direction of the development of novel retinal phantom and compatible signal and image paradigms for ophthalmological ultrasound systems, but specifics will be discussed as the project progresses.

Project External Partner: Keeler

Tactile and Ultrasonic imaging for next generation breast cancer screening

Combining tactile imaging with ultrasound could potentially provide benefits for breast cancer screening. Tactile imaging, also known as mechanical imaging or elastography, involves the use of pressure waves to create images of tissue stiffness. Ultrasound, on the other hand, uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the internal structures of the body.

Healthcare providers have the potential to gain a more precise and holistic understanding of breast tissue by leveraging the integration of ultrasound and tactile imaging. Tactile imaging can provide information about tissue stiffness, which can be an indicator of the presence of cancerous or precancerous cells. Ultrasound can provide more detailed images of the breast tissue, allowing healthcare providers to identify and analyse any abnormalities that may be present.

Project External Partner: Pressure Profile Systems

Presenter Manager – FUSE Annual Meeting 2024

Robotic Ultrasonic System for In-situ Residual Stress Measurement in Metal Additive Manufacturing

As part of my pre-aligned project, I am working with the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland to research a robotic ultrasonic system for in-situ residual stress measurement in metal additive manufacturing.

The main aim of this project is to develop a residual stress measurement system that will enable residual stress to be detected in situ during the metal additive manufacturing process. It will also be important to look at how to automate the RS measurement process by using robot deployment of the sensor arrays, as well as looking at the feasibility of 5G wireless integration. Through carrying out this research project, it should allow for in-situ measurements of RS at elevated temperatures to be taken for the very first time.

Project External Partner: National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, AFRC

Co-design and AI for Innovation in Ultrasonic Transducers for Underwater Sonar

Currently sonar systems consist of three separate elements. These elements are the device, the electronic circuits, and the AI. The device serves the purpose of translating the sound waves into electrical signals. It consists of a transducer and/or receiver that uses piezoelectric material. The electronic circuits allow for communication between the devices, the AI and the interface. It is also used to affect the circuit when necessary. The AI is used to understand the signals. This can be done using a collection of techniques and tools such as deep learning or creating specialised algorithms. These elements can be constructed and made by different companies and industries and are then brought together to work as a single system. Occasionally getting said devices to operate effectively together can cause issues and results in the whole system being less effective. In this project one system will be designed that will encapsulate every element, resulting in a more effective system.

Project External Partner: Thales

Student Host – FUSE Annual Meeting 2024