A sensitive optical micro-machined ultrasound sensor (OMUS) based on a silicon photonic ring resonator on an acoustical membrane
With the increasing use of ultrasonography, especially in medical imaging, novel fabrication techniques together with novel sensor designs are needed to meet the requirements for future applications like three-dimensional intercardiac and intravascular imaging. These applications require arrays of many small elements to selectively record the sound waves coming from a certain direction. Here we present proof of concept of an optical micro-machined ultrasound sensor (OMUS) fabricated with a semi-industrial CMOS fabrication line. The sensor is based on integrated photonics, which allows for elements with small spatial footprint. We demonstrate that the first prototype is already capable of detecting pressures of 0.4 Pa, which matches the performance of the state of the art piezo-electric transducers while having a 65 times smaller spatial footprint. The sensor is compatible with MRI due to the lack of electronical wiring. Another important benefit of the use of integrated photonics is the easy interrogation of an array of elements. Hence, in future designs only two optical fibers are needed to interrogate an entire array, which minimizes the amount of connections of smart catheters. The demonstrated OMUS has potential applications in medical ultrasound imaging, non destructive testing as well as in flow sensing.