3D-Printed Metamaterials to Be Used in High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound Treatments

A team of scientists at Sussex University has created Metamaterials – finely refined engineering surfaces that have the capability to manipulate sound. This discovery could revolutionize the medical imaging systems and personal audio used in the diagnostic applications. What’s more, it might prove to be of immense significance in hi-intensity focused ultrasound cancer treatments.

Researchers assembled several small bricks of acoustic metamaterial layers that “coil up space”. These bricks are manufactured from thermoplastic D Systems ProJet HD 3000 Plus printer. This construction slows down sound waves considerably, allowing scientists to transform and bend them into any required sound field.

Head of the Interact lab, Sussex University – Professor Sriram Subramaniam said, “The goal of the team is to create acoustic devices that manipulate sound with the same ease and flexibility with which projectors and liquid crystal displays manipulate light.”

This innovative technique can be implemented to destroy tumors without incurring any damage to the adjacent tissue. What’s more, it can also be used to spot cracks in critical engineering components by allowing a very precise beam of ultrasound.

Professor Sriram further added that controlling sound field is not new as sound imaging is already being used in medical imaging, therapy, and diagnostics. The team has just tried to use a different approach, which in turn could help create affordable imaging systems for medical diagnostics and crack detection.

He also elaborated saying, “At the moment, our metalayers are static, so one layer can produce a single transformation. We are now working on dynamic bricks that will allow the transformation to be actively controlled. These dynamic bricks will open up further applications such as medical and engineering imaging where they would dynamically steer the beam around the interior of the test object – be it human or engineering structure.”


Sparrow Norbert, “3D-printed Metamaterials Can Bend Sound Waves to Improve Medical Diagnostics and Cancer Treatment”. <https://www.plasticstoday.com/materials/3d-printed-metamaterials-can-bend-sound-waves-improve-medical-diagnostics-and-cancer-treatment/45495174156393>

Benedict, “Sound-shaping 3D printed metamaterials could be used to fight cancer and improve personal audio.” <http://www.3ders.org/articles/20170227-sound-shaping-3d-printed-metamaterials-could-be-used-to-fight-cancer-and-improve-personal-audio.html>

Katia, Moskvitch, “Acoustic metamaterial set to track down cracks”, <http://www.imeche.org/news/news-article/acoustic-metamaterial-set-to-track-down-cracks>