Researchers have invented a tiny probe equipped with an ultrasound scanner that can travel through veins and arteries, taking ultrasound images of its surroundings. Unlike previous probes that travel through the body, which could only provide a view from one direction at a time, the new device has seven imagers integrated onto the hexagonal prism that can see nearly everywhere at once.
With a length of one micrometer, the probe is a true MEMS (MicroElectroMechanical Systems) device. At that size, the probe could be threaded through blood vessels in the brain, seeking out possible signs of a stroke and being used to measure blood flow. Alternatively, the probe could be swallowed like a pill, and directed toward uncharted territory in the body.
The device can provide images similar to those taken of an unborn baby from outside the body. However, taking images on the inside is more difficult, since longer wavelengths are required, which reduces resolution.
The researchers, who are from New Mexico University in Albuquerque, and National Taiwan University in Taiwan, have tested the probe in water and plan to test it on animals, attached to the end of a long wire.
via: New Scientist