National Physical Laboratory

Ultrasound breast imaging system shortlisted for engineering award

A consortium of scientists including staff from the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has devised a prototype clinical system for potential use in cancer diagnosis. This development has been shortlisted for the prestigious Collaborate to Innovate award run by The Engineer, the UK's longest running engineering publication. The award is given for work which displays high-level collaboration to produce innovative technology.

The prototype imaging device at NPL
The prototype imaging device at NPL

The concept behind the ultrasound imaging technique originated at NPL, and is currently being developed through Innovate UK funding in collaboration with industry partners Precision Acoustics Ltd and Designworks, along with University Hospitals, Bristol (UHB). It should generate images which are easier for clinicians to interpret than current techniques.

The technique exploits pyroelectric sensors that convert the heat produced by the absorption of ultrasound into voltage signals which are eventually combined to form an image of the acoustic properties of breast tissue. The new method of detecting ultrasound should produce images with fewer imaging artefacts. After testing at NPL on test phantoms that mimic breast tissue, the imaging system will be deployed at UHB where it will be used for testing of volunteers.

Gary Livingstone, Managing Director of Precision Acoustics, said:

"We are very proud to be involved with NPL on such a ground-breaking project. The collaboration made possible by Innovate UK brings together scientific discovery and engineering ingenuity to produce an exceptional advancement of cancer imaging and potential future treatment.

The Collaborate to Innovate recognition is well deserved and highlights what is so inspiring about the incredible science and engineering that takes place in the UK."

Five shortlisted candidates have been considered for the Collaborate to Innovate award. The judging panel consists of 13 people, including Dawn Bonfield, CEO of the Women's Engineering Society; Jon Excell, editor of The Engineer; and Paul Jackson, Chief Executive of Engineering UK.

The awards ceremony will take place on 7 September 2016, when the winner will be announced.

We work with Innovate UK

Find out more about the ultrasound screening technique and NPL's work on Ultrasonics

For more information, please contact Dr Bajram Zeqiri

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Last Updated: 29 Nov 2018
Created: 1 Sep 2016


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