The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering award will fund Shaolan Li’s new research on energy-efficient integration of ultrasound front-end electronics in portable and wearable ultrasound imaging systems.

Assistant Professor Shaolan Li in the School of Electrical and Computer (ECE) has been awarded the prestigious Trailblazer R21 Award from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering(NIBIB). The research will be performed in collaboration with Professor Levent Degertekin in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering (ME).

NIBIB is a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) dedicated to advancing health through the promotion of cutting-edge research in biomedical imaging and bioengineering.

The award will provide support for the interdisciplinary team’s work, “Space-Time Compressed Sampling Techniques for Integrated Ultrasound Imaging System-on-a-Chip,” focused on advancing compact, energy-efficient integration of ultrasound front-end electronics.

The Trailblazer R21 Award is specifically aimed at new and early-stage investigators, with the goal of facilitating groundbreaking research at the intersection of life sciences, engineering, and the physical sciences. Notably, applicants are required to propose novel high-risk high-return research approaches that have minimal or no preliminary data.

The three-year project aims to integrate compact and power-efficient electronics into portable and wearable ultrasound imaging systems, meeting the growing demand in the field. Li and Degertekin will explore a novel approach called compressed sensing (CS) at the integrated circuit level to overcome the current challenges posed by the requirements of high-performance imaging and the limitations of power, physical size, and interconnects.

The research purposes a novel CS framework that reduces the size of ultrasound data without sacrificing image quality. By combining compression techniques and advanced chip design, the team hopes to achieve faster and more efficient imaging.

Ultimately, the researchers plan to develop a prototype device that integrates different components on a single chip, potentially reducing the need for multiple cables during catheter-based ultrasound procedures. The performance of this prototype will be compared to traditional imaging systems to assess its effectiveness.

The project is expected to contribute valuable theories, models, circuit techniques, and insights into the design space and limitations of emerging portable and wearable ultrasound systems.