Capacitive micromachined ultrasonic transducers (CMUTs) represent an effective alternative to piezoelectric transducers for medical ultrasound imaging applications. They are microelectromechanical devices fabricated using silicon micromachining techniques, developed in the last two decades in many laboratories. The interest for this novel transducer technology relies on its full compatibility with standard integrated circuit technology that makes it possible to integrate on the same chip the transducers and the electronics, thus enabling the realization of extremely low-cost and high-performance devices, including both 1-D or 2-D arrays. Being capacitive transducers, CMUTs require a high bias voltage to be properly operated in pulse-echo imaging applications. The typical bias supply residual ripple of high-quality high-voltage (HV) generators is in the millivolt range, which is comparable with the amplitude of the received echo signals, and it is particularly difficult to minimize. The aim of this paper is to analyze the classical CMUT biasing circuits, highlighting the features of each one, and to propose two novel HV generator architectures optimized for CMUT biasing applications. The first circuit proposed is an ultralow-residual ripple (<5 μV) HV generator that uses an extremely stable sinusoidal power oscillator topology. The second circuit employs a commercially available integrated stepup converter characterized by a particularly efficient switching topology. The circuit is used to bias the CMUT by charging a buffer capacitor synchronously with the pulsing sequence, thus reducing the impact of the switching noise on the received echo signals. The small area of the circuit (about 1.5 cm2) makes it possible to generate the bias voltage inside the probe, very close to the CMUT, making the proposed solution attractive for portable applications. Measurements and experiments are shown to demonstrate the effectiveness of the new approaches presented.
Caliano, G., Matrone, G., Savoia, A.S. (2016). Biasing of Capacitive Micromachined Ultrasonic Transducers. IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON ULTRASONICS FERROELECTRICS AND FREQUENCY CONTROL, 64(2), 402-413 [10.1109/TUFFC.2016.2623221].