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Medical Science

Digitizers are playing an increasing role in medical science particularly when fast electronic signals such as those encountered when using ultrasound, lasers and radiation need to be acquired, analyzed and displayed. The ability of digitizers to convert these types of analog signals into digital information which can then be transferred at high-speeds into computers makes them ideal whenever the information needs to be analyzed and quickly presented. Fast medical imaging is being used to improve diagnosis and help detect disease in the fields of radiology, nuclear medicine, ultrasonography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), optical coherence tomography (OCT) and photo-acoustic imaging, dosimetry, positron emission tomography (PET) and other related non-invasive inspection methods.

To cover the broad range and diverse nature of the electronic signals found in medical science Spectrum offers a wide range of digitizers and arbitrary waveform generators. The products are available in a variety of popular standards including PCI, PCIe, PXI and LXI. They offer bandwidths from 50 kHz to 1.5 GHz, sampling rates from 100 KS/s to 5 GS/s, and resolution from 8 up to 16 bits. When large dynamic range and maximum sensitivity is required high-resolution 14 and 16 bit digitizers are available for the capture and analysis of signals that go as high as 250 MHz in frequency. These high-resolution products deliver outstanding signal-to-noise ratio's (up to 72 dB) and spurious free dynamic range (of up to 90 dB) so that small signal variations can be detected and analyzed. They are ideal for use with the sensors used in ultrasound and photo-acoustic systems while the high speed, wide bandwidth digitizers are available to capture the fast pulses (down to the nano and sub-nanosecond ranges) often found in nuclear medicine.

The digitizers are also equipped with ultra-fast trigger circuits, complete with trigger time stamping, so that the dead-time between acquisitions can be extremely small (down to as little as 16 ns). Together with large on-board memories (up to 4 GSamples/card) and advanced streaming and readout modes this makes the digitizers suited to applications where long and complex signals need to be captured and analyzed. Data can be stored in the on-board memory or streamed in FIFO mode over the fast PCIe bus of the digitizer to a PC. By streaming data to a RAID based storage array it's even possible to seamlessly store hours of information. To help with data analysis and data reduction Spectrum's M4i series of digitizers also feature on-board FPGA based processing functions that can be perform on-the-fly Averaging and Peak detection routines.

Each digitizer card can have from one to four channels and up to eight cards can be linked together with Spectrum's StarHub system to create instruments with up to 32 fully synchronous channels, making them perfect for applications where multiple sensors and large sensor arrays are deployed.

Spectrum Product Features

  • High Sampling Rates up to 5 GS/s and 1.5 GHz bandwidth
  • 14 and 16 bit Resolution
  • Fast Trigger and Read-Out Rates
  • External Clock and Reference Inputs
  • FPGA based Block Average and Block Statisctics (Peak Detect) Options

Matching Card Families

  • M4i.22xx: 8 bit 5 GS/s to 1.25 GS/s digitizer
  • M4i.44xx: 14/16 bit 500 MS/s to 130 MS/s digitizer
  • M2p.59xx: 16 bit 20 MS/s to 125 MS/s Digitizer
  • DN2.4xx: 16 Bit 500 MS/s to 200 kS/s digitizerNETBOX LXI/Ethernet Digitizer

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Useful Links

  • At London’s St Thomas’ Hospital in the UK, they are working on a high-speed photoacoustic-guided wavefront shaping method, that uses a relatively simple experimental setup, with potential for in vivo applications. Part of the system uses an M4i.4420-x8 250 MS/s, 16-bit Digitizer to acquire ultrasonic signals. The full research paper discussing the experimental setup and results can be found here
  • The College of Biophotonics, South China Normal University, China, is improving the performance of photoacoustic/ultrasound endoscopes. Their research uses an M4i.4420-x8 250 MS/s, 16-bit Digitizer as part of dual-modality endoscope. A research paper here shows the potential for using the tens-of-micron-resolved PA/US endoscope for in vivo anatomical imaging in the clinical detection of colorectal diseases.
  • At the College of Biophotonics, South China Normal University, Guangzhou in China researchers they are developing a real-time optical-resolution photoacoustic endoscope capable of imaging at rates of 25 Hz. An M4i.4450-x8, 500 MS/s, 14-bit Digitizer is used to acquire data which is then rapidly transferred to a computer for signal processing. Details of the development can be found here
  • At the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, South China University of Technology, China, they are using a Spectrum M4x.6621-x4 AWG as a precision waveform generator for their research into a Fourier Transform Induced Data Process for Label-free Selective Nanopore Analysis under Sinusoidal Voltage Excitations. A research paper is available here with supplementary documentation showing the experimental setup here
  • The Department of Chemistry, National Taiwan University, in Taiwan are studying the roaming dynamics and conformational memory in photolysis of formic acid. They use an M4i.4410-x8, 130 MS/s, 16 bit, Digitizer for data acquisition in their Time-resolved Fourier-transform Infrared Emission Spectroscopy system. A research paper on the topic can be found here
  • The University of Leeds and the Leeds Institute of Medical Research, Leeds, U.K. are studying the use of nanobubbles as a drug delivery agent for cancer treatment. A Spectrum M4i.4420-x8, 250 MS/s, 16-bit Digitizer is used as the data acquisition card that collect acoustic emission signals. A paper discussing the research can be found here
  • At the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) in Germany they are investigating ways to improve the safety for patients with implants who are to be subjected to an MRI process. The PTB is using two M4i.6622-x8 AWG’s and an M4i.4451-x8 digitizer as part of a signal transmission and reception system. A white paper that describes the system and demonstrates how RF induced heating and its mitigation can be achieved is presented here
  • The University of Bern’s Institute of Applied Physics in Switzerland is testing and developing algorithms used for image reconstruction in optoacoustic imaging applications. Test signals are acquired using an M4i.4420-x8, 250 MS/s, 16 bit, digitizer and a research paper discussing their findings can be downloaded from here
  • At Switzerland’s Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology and Faculty of Medicine, at the University Zurich, they are using a burst-mode laser triggering scheme and an M4i.4420-x8, 250 MS/s, 16 bit, digitizer to perform rapid acquisition functional optoacoustic micro-angiography. A paper discussing the developed system, and how it greatly enhances the performance and usability of optoacoustic microscopy for dermatologic and micro-angiographic studies, can be found here
  • The MOE Key Laboratory of Laser Life Science and Institute of Laser Life Science, at the South China Normal University, in China has developed a Photoacoustic Imaging (PAI) pen that can be handheld (performing forward detection and lateral detection) to extend the application of photoacoustic (PA) microscopy to areas such as the oral cavity, throat, cervix, and abdominal viscera. The experimental setup uses an M4i.4450-x8 500 MS/s, 14 bit, digitizer to acquire the sensor signals. A paper discussing the PAI pen and the test results can be found here
  • The School of Biomedical Engineering, Tohoku University, Japan is using a 5 GS/s M4i.2230-x8 Digitizer to achieve optical resolution photoacoustic microscopy with sub-micron lateral resolution for visualization of cells and their structures. Details and results of their experimental setup can be found here
  • At Tokushima University in Japan they are performing fluorescence lifetime estimation by 1-bit photon autocorrelation procedure from time-series data recorded using a high-speed M4i.2220-x8 digitizer. The application details can be found here
  • At the Central South University in Changsha, China, they are using an M4i.2233-x8 high speed digitizer in an improved acoustic-resolution-based photoacoustic microscope (ARPAM) that helps to resolve the conflict between lateral resolution and depth of field. The article is available here
  • The University of Helsinki, Finland, has developed a 3 Megapixel Ultrasonic Microscope using a Spectrum M4i.6631-x8 AWG for signal transmission and an M4i.2233-x8 digitizer for data acquisition. IEEE members can download the full article here
  • At the Norwegian University of Science and Technology they are using an eight channel M2p.5946-x4 80 MS/s, 16 bit, digitizer card as part of their studies into biomedical laser spectroscopy. The development of a Mid-Infrared Laser Spectroscopy for Glucose Sensing is discussed here
  • Find out how Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, uses a high speed 16 bit Spectrum digitizer M4i.4420-x8 for Photoacoustic Imaging by clicking here
  • See how fast Spectrum digitizers M2i.2031 and M2i.4022 are used for OCT data acquisition at the University of Sheffield, UK, by clicking here
  • See how the Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, at University College London, UK, use an M4i.4420-x8 high-resolution digitizer in a miniature all optical ultrasonic 3D endoscopic imaging system by clicking here
  • Click here to find out how the School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, University of Leeds, UK, are using a Spectrum M4i.4420-x8 high-resolution digitizer, plasmonic gold nanorods and high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) to improve non-invasive techniques for the treatment of cancerous tissue
  • Laser-scanning confocal fluorescence microscopy is a relatively new and important tool for biomedical research. At the University of Tokyo they are able to demonstrate confocal fluorescence microscopy at a record high frame rate of 16,000 frames/s thanks to new research and the use of a Spectrum M4i.2212-x8 high-speed digitizer. Click here to read the full story.
  • At the Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland, researchers are using a Spectrum M4i.4421-x8 16 bit digitizer to study ultrasound propagation in materials that are used to model the human skull as well as investigating therapeutic ultrasound as a potential means to treat diseases of the brain.
  • At the University of Konstanz a fast high resolution Spectrum M3i.4142 digitizer provides nanosecond time-resolution in an FTIR spectroscopy system that’s used to investigate protein-membrane interactions. See the full details here
  • The Laboratory of Acoustical Waveform Imaging, Department of Imaging Physics, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands, is developing the Delft Breast Ultrasound Scanning System (DBUS) as a means for detecting the presence of tumors. Find out how they are using the 14 bit M3i.4142 digitizer by following this link
  • A video-rate all-optical ultrasound imaging system, where ultrasound is generated and detected using light, has been demonstrated at the Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, University College London, UK. The system uses a Spectrum M4i.4420-x8 high resolution 16 bit digitizer to acquire signals from a broadband photodiode. Details on how the system enables real-time, video-rate 2D ultrasound imaging, at a frame rate of 15 Hz, can be found here

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