Panoramic Ultrasound Scanner
Researchers have built a panoramic ultrasound scanner to work from inside your body
Ultrasound scanners are normally used from outside your body looking in, most famously for looking at unborn babies. They work by sending pulses of sound into you and then listening for reflections from structures in side your body. The shorter the wavelength of the ultrasound the better the resolution of the system so the better the images. But short wavelengths mean that the signal can't penetrate very far so images deeper into the body are not very detailed.
This problem has been avoided in the past by putting the sensor inside the body on a probe, sometimes down a blood vessel. The problem is that the sensors could only look in one direction so doctors got a very detailed but blinkered view.
Jing-Kuang Chen and colleagues from New Mexico University may have a solution. They have folded a tiny sensor into a 1mm across hexagonal box. So it can now look forwards and sideways in a total of 7 directions, which should give doctors a panoramic view from inside the patient.