Multi-layered PZT/polymer composites to increase signal-to-noise ratio and resolution for medical ultrasound transducers part II: thick film technology.
Increasing transducer bandwidth and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is fundamental to improving the quality of medical ultrasound images. In previous work, we have proposed the use of multi-layer 1-3 PZT/polymer composites to increase both, but have encountered significant fabrication challenges . These difficulties include making the bond thickness between the layers small relative to the ultrasound wavelength and aligning the posts of the composite to increase coupling coefficient. Thus, we have developed a multi-layer composite hybrid array that will not require post alignment. Starting from a 2-MHz, three-layer PZT-5H, thick film transducer designed for 1.5-D arrays, cuts are made only through the top layer and back-filled with epoxy, forming a composite layer on top of two ceramic layers. Finite element (PZFlex) simulations show that for a 2-MHz phased-array element with a single matching layer, the three-layer hybrid structure increases the pulse echo SNR by 11 dB versus a single layer PZT element and improves -6 dB pulse echo fractional bandwidth by a factor of 1.4. Composite hybrid arrays fabricated in our laboratory showed an improvement in SNR of 6 to 11 dB over a PZT control and an increase in -6 dB bandwidth by a factor of 1.1. Images from a phased-array scanner confirmed these improvements.
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