Applications of Ultrasound

Applications of Ultrasound

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Ultrasound is a type of sound that we can't hear, but it has many uses. Humans can only hear sounds from 20Hz to 20,000Hz, but sounds lower than 20Hz are called infrasound sounds than 20,000Hz are called ultrasound. Animals like bats, dogs, and dolphins have better hearing than humans and can hear ultrasound. However, humans have found many clever ways to use ultrasound even though we can't hear it. This technology is used in many fields like medicine, cleaning, and even in cooking.

Examples of ultrasound application

Ultrasound has four main uses in real-life applications. It can be used for navigation, cleaning, in the medical field, and in industry. Here are some examples of how ultrasound is used in each:

Navigation: Ultrasound is used to measure distances underwater.

Cleaning: Ultrasound is used to clean delicate items like jewellery, antiques, and clockwork. It can also remove tartar and plaque from teeth.

Medical: Ultrasound is used for foetal scans to check the health of internal organs. It can also treat joint pain, tumours, and kidney stones.

Industrial: Ultrasound is used to check for defects in materials.

Navigation application

Navigating through the deep sea is crucial for fishing boats, submarines, and research vessels. However, light waves penetrate deep into the water and are heavily distorted when crossing the air-water boundary. To solve this problem, we use SONAR (Sound Navigation And Ranging) and echo sounding.

High-frequency ultrasound waves are used to detect objects in deep water and measure water depth. For example, a fishing boat will send an ultrasound pulse to the seabed to determine the distance. When the pulse reaches the seabed, it echoes back to the boat, and the time taken for the pulse to return to the vessel can be used to calculate the the using the formula: distance = (wave speed x time)/2. The wave speed of sound in water is approximately 1,500 meters per second.

The exact speed can vary slightly based on factors such as water temperature, salinity, and pressure, which change with time of day, season, and depth. However, for this article, we will assume the wave speed is constant.


‍Echo sounding
Echo sounding

Question 1 A research vessel has discoveredan old shipwreck resting on the seabed using sonar. It did this using anultrasound pulse, which tookfor the echo to return. If the speed of sound inwater is, calculate the depth of the shipwreck.

Answer 1 It takes the ultrasoundpulseto travel to the shipwreck, reflect off it and then return to the researchvessel. Now, use the modified distance equals to the product of speed and timeformula to calculate the depth.

Cleaning applications

Sound is caused by the vibration of particles, with higher frequency resulting from more vibrations per second. Jewellers use ultrasound to clean their jewellery by emitting ultrasound waves at the dirty products. This causes the particles inside the jewellery to vibrate quickly, shaking the dirt apart. Similarly, antique clockwork can be cleaned with ultrasound due to its delicate nature.

Dental hygienists also use ultrasound devices to remove plaque and tartar from teeth, as they are more comfortable for patients and can reach areas that manual tools may struggle with. Ultrasound tools are also safer for those with weaker teeth, as they do not require scraping force that could accidentally remove precious enamel and leave teeth more sensitive to decay.

Medical field applications

Ultrasound imaging is a widely used diagnostic tool to monitor the development of a baby in a mother's uterus. An ultrasound transducer is placed on the skin, which can both transmit and receive ultrasound waves. The waves are then reflected at solid boundaries, such as the baby's bones, muscles, or tissues, and then returned to the transducer. From this data, a computer can generate an image of the baby and other structures in the uterus. This process is known as ultrasound imaging.

This technique is safe for both the mother and the baby and is used to monitor the growth and development of the baby, diagnose any abnormalities, and assess the placenta and amniotic fluid. It is also used to determine the baby's sex, position, and size.

Ultrasound imaging is a non-invasive and painless procedure. It is usually performed by a trained technician or physician and typically takes around 20-30 minutes to complete. It is an essential tool in prenatal care and has greatly improved the diagnosis and management of pregnancy-related complications.

Using ultrasound to create an image of ababy in the womb

While X-ray scans can provide clearer images of a developing fetus than ultrasound, they are not typically used due to the high levels of radiation involved. X-rays have very high energies that can seriously impact the health of an unborn baby, causing birth defects or learning disabilities. As fetuses only possess relatively few cells that divide rapidly, they are vulnerable to radiation, and have little protection from it except for the mother's abdomen.

Abdominal ultrasounds, on the other hand, are a safe and non-invasive way to assess the health of internal organs within the abdomen, such as the liver, pancreas, spleen, and gallbladder. Ultrasound technology also has other medical applications, such as treating joint pain and certain types of tumors. In addition, ultrasound can be used to eliminate painful kidney or bladder stones. Surgeons pass thousands of high-energy ultrasound waves through the body to break the stones down into smaller pieces, which can then move through the urinary tract safely and be excreted from the body.

Overall, ultrasound technology is a valuable tool in medical diagnosis and treatment, providing a safe and non-invasive way to assess a variety of health conditions.

Industrial applications and crack detectionin metals

trasound waves are incredibly useful in industrial applications, particularly for checking the internal structures metal objects such as castings, bolts, and pipes. Using ultrasound waves to detect cracks inside these materials is an essential part of ensuring that the tools and materials we use are not defective.

When an ultrasound wave is sent through a material, it is usually reflected back at the boundary of the far side of the object. However, if the metal object has an invisible defect such as a crack inside the material, then the ultrasound wave will reflect off the crack instead. The reflected ultrasound wave will return to the receiver in less time than predicted, indicating that the material is defective. By using echo sounding, the speed of the wave inside the material can be determined, allowing the distance between the ultrasound source and the defect to be calculated.

Overall, ultrasound technology plays a critical role in ensuring the safety and reliability of industrial materials and tools, allowing us to detect invisible defects and prevent accidents and failures.

Industrial use of ultrasound to test fordefects such as cracks

Ultrasound scans are used to diagnose a variety of medical conditions, including pregnancy, abdominal pain, and heart and vascular diseases. They are also used to guide medical procedures such as biopsies and to monitor the progress of a pregnancy. The benefits of ultrasound scans include that they are non-invasive, painless, and do not involve exposure to radiation. Additionally, they can provide detailed images of the body's internal organs and structures.

In contrast, X-ray scans involve exposure to radiation, which can increase the risk of cancer. Additionally, X-ray scans can be less detailed than ultrasound scans and may not provide the same level of accuracy.

Applications of Ultrasound

How is ultrasound applied innavigation? 
Ultrasound is used in navigation, by echo sounding. By emitting an ultrasoundpulse, it is possible to determine the distance to another object as the pulseis reflected back to the source. By timing how long the ultrasound pulse takesto return, the distance can be calculated.
How is ultrasound applied in cleaning? 
Ultrasound can be used to vibrate particles, dislodging unwanted 'dirt'particles.
What is an example of crack detection in metals?
Metal tools and objects such as castings, bolts, or pipes can be tested forinternal cracks or defects using ultrasound.
Which area of the medical field is ultrasound applied? 
Ultrasound is useful in foetal scans, assessing the health of internal organs,and treating specific diseases.
What are the major uses of ultrasound? 
Major uses of ultrasound are in navigation, cleaning, medicine, and industry.

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