Everyone has seen an ultrasound picture of a new baby. It is an amazing concept to be able to see into a mother’s womb and see with remarkable clarity what is going on in the tender cases of soon to be newborns. How this technology actually works is less well known. Perhaps even less well known are the other uses of ultrasounds.
Ultrasound technology usually refers to processes where sound waves with high frequencies are utilized. The main uses revolve around the concepts of detecting objects and measuring distances. As illustrated in the case of seeing a new baby before it is born, the detection capabilities are also translated into a viewable image. Other amazing uses of ultrasound technology provide insight into just how useful the field has become in the modern world.
Related to the most common use of ultrasound is the work of imaging. Surprisingly the idea of using special sound waves that produce resolutions that are similar to optical images was developed in the late 1930s. Ultrasonic imaging refines the techniques used in the last century and uses frequencies that are 2 megahertz or higher. Read more about training and career options that utilize this technology.
Now days almost every part of the body can undergo this type of imaging to help medical professionals diagnose and treat illness and injury. Some of the organs that are most frequently viewed by ultrasound are the heart and connected blood vessels, the thyroid, the spleen, bladder, and pancreas. Seeing this somewhat inaccessible organs can give valuable data that can guide procedures like needle biopsies which aid lab testing. Another common medical procedure that requires ultrasound imaging is the diagnosis of various heart conditions including a valve problem that is connected to congestive heart failure.
The medical uses of ultrasound are not relegated only to human use. Diagnostic ultrasound work is common and extremely useful in working with horses. Whereas humans can communicate symptoms and other problems they are encountering to their doctor, horses and other animals obviously cannot explain what they think is going on. Vets are often able to see tendon injuries or other soft tissue issues by using an ultrasound. Because the process is essentially painless it allows the vet critical information that allows the development of a treatment plan. Such information is impossible to obtain without an imaging ultrasound.
Beef production is one animal-related industry that has seen an increase in the use of ultrasound technology. Beginning in earnest in the 2000s, ultrasounds have been used to obtain information that can be used to improve the productivity of beef ranches.
Most people are more familiar with the misnomer for ultrasonic cleaning which is supersonic cleaning. Specially tuned sound frequencies are used in the cleaning of lenses and other highly sensitive and delicate optical parts as well as fine jewelry and medical instruments. The machines that produce the cleaning waves also utilize the ultrasonic properties of cavitation.
The gaseous bubbles from small jets of air and liquid that are effective in delivering cleaner to small areas that are not normally penetrated by standing water or even high-pressure washers.
An emerging field for ultrasound is that of wireless communications. For several years wireless technology has been dominated by Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The security and potential health risks that are associated with these forms of wireless communication and data transfer have caused researchers to look into what can be accomplished by using ultrasonic waves of sound.
One of the more prominent looking applications in reducing dependence on Wifi and Bluetooth is in somewhat new veritable smart home concept. Maybe ultrasound is how the Jetsons manage to have all the devices in their homework in synchronicity. Researchers are currently working on a way to use sound to connect cell phones to T.V. and computer screens. This would allow casting from one to the other seamless, instant and makes the need for a stable Wi-Fi connection obsolete. Click here for more information on this research.
Not especially effective or capable of the welding of metals, ultrasonic welding is used in the joining of certain types of plastics. By vibrating the two pieces of plastic that are to be welded together, friction is caused and heat is generated. The concentration of the ultrasonic waves is enough to melt the two joined plastics and when they cool they function as a single piece.
One of the first applications for ultrasonic sound waves was physical therapy. Physical and occupational therapists have introduced ultrasound to connective tissues in the body since the 1940s. Scar tissue, ligaments, and tendons have been shown to respond favorably to ultrasound.
The ailments that this treatment is most effective for include sprains, tendonitis, inflammation, plantar fasciitis, certain forms of arthritis, and scar tissue. The units that produce the healing waves are so common and reasonably sized that they are relatively common even in high school locker rooms. There are two methods that are used in therapeutic ultrasounds; Heating and non-thermal.
When optimized for it ultrasound can produce targeted heat. By heating affected body parts that are deep in someone’s body, a therapist can provide pain relief and stimulate the body’s natural healing processes to otherwise inaccessible areas. Non-thermal effects of ultrasound stimulate gas bubbles that expand and contract around a targeted ligament or joint. The theory here is that this cavitation helps speed up the cells of the body in their regenerations processes.
The expanding and contracting of gasses that interact with ultrasound not only aids the healing process but also allows for more efficient mixing and processing of liquids and industrial slurries. This cavitation can be extremely powerful and has been used at levels that generate hydrodynamic shear-forces. These forces are seen most prominently in the processes relating to nearly and actually microscopic materials.
When two materials or chemicals need to be mixed the reactants required in the mixing process are most effectively introduced when under the effects of the expanding and collapsing gases seen in ultrasound induced cavitation.
Fearful news stories of late have focused on a mysterious set of symptoms that have been reported by a number of staffers of various U.S. embassies and consulates across the globe. Recently released medical reports indicate that a new type of weapon may have been developed that involved directed ultrasonic waves toward a group of people which then causes disorientation and general nausea.
With ultrasound finding prominence in research and development departments of nearly every government and industry leader, it is safe to say that the uses of the technology will continue to expand. Being involved in this type of industry may provide suitable job security and profitability as the supply and demand of such continue to increase.