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What is ultrasound?

What is ultrasound?
What is ultrasound?
This paper is based on material presented at the start of a Health Protection Agency meeting on ultrasound and infrasound. In answering the question ‘what is ultrasound?’, it shows that the simple description of a wave which transports mechanical energy through the local vibration of particles at frequencies of 20 kHz or more, with no net transport of the particles themselves, can in every respect be misleading or even incorrect. To explain the complexities responsible for this, the description of ultrasound is first built up from the fundamental properties of these local particle vibrations. This progresses through an exposition of the characteristics of linear waves, in order to explain the propensity for, and properties of, the nonlinear propagation which occurs in many practical ultrasonic fields. Given the Health Protection environment which framed the original presentation, explanation and examples are given of how these complexities affect issues of practical importance. These issues include the measurement and description of fields and exposures, and the ability of ultrasound to affect tissue (through microstreaming, streaming, cavitation, heating, etc.). It is noted that there are two very distinct regimes, in terms of wave characteristics and potential for bioeffect. The first concerns the use of ultrasound in liquids/solids, for measurement or material processing. For biomedical applications (where these two processes are termed diagnosis and therapy, respectively), the issue of hazard has been studied in depth, although this has not been done to such a degree for industrial uses of ultrasound in liquids/solids (sonar, non-destructive testing, ultrasonic processing etc.). However, in the second regime, that of the use of ultrasound in air, although the waves in question tend to be of much lower intensities than those used in liquids/solids, there is a greater mismatch between the extent to which hazard has been studied, and the growth in commercial applications for airborne ultrasound.
ultrasound, infrasound, effects
0079-6107
3-83
Leighton, Timothy G.
3e5262ce-1d7d-42eb-b013-fcc5c286bbae
Leighton, Timothy G.
3e5262ce-1d7d-42eb-b013-fcc5c286bbae

Leighton, Timothy G. (2007) What is ultrasound? Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, 93 (1-3), 3-83. (doi:10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2006.07.026).

Record type: Article

Abstract

This paper is based on material presented at the start of a Health Protection Agency meeting on ultrasound and infrasound. In answering the question ‘what is ultrasound?’, it shows that the simple description of a wave which transports mechanical energy through the local vibration of particles at frequencies of 20 kHz or more, with no net transport of the particles themselves, can in every respect be misleading or even incorrect. To explain the complexities responsible for this, the description of ultrasound is first built up from the fundamental properties of these local particle vibrations. This progresses through an exposition of the characteristics of linear waves, in order to explain the propensity for, and properties of, the nonlinear propagation which occurs in many practical ultrasonic fields. Given the Health Protection environment which framed the original presentation, explanation and examples are given of how these complexities affect issues of practical importance. These issues include the measurement and description of fields and exposures, and the ability of ultrasound to affect tissue (through microstreaming, streaming, cavitation, heating, etc.). It is noted that there are two very distinct regimes, in terms of wave characteristics and potential for bioeffect. The first concerns the use of ultrasound in liquids/solids, for measurement or material processing. For biomedical applications (where these two processes are termed diagnosis and therapy, respectively), the issue of hazard has been studied in depth, although this has not been done to such a degree for industrial uses of ultrasound in liquids/solids (sonar, non-destructive testing, ultrasonic processing etc.). However, in the second regime, that of the use of ultrasound in air, although the waves in question tend to be of much lower intensities than those used in liquids/solids, there is a greater mismatch between the extent to which hazard has been studied, and the growth in commercial applications for airborne ultrasound.

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More information

Published date: 2007
Keywords: ultrasound, infrasound, effects

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 43412
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/43412
ISSN: 0079-6107
PURE UUID: 78e9fd56-c29e-4d87-a1dd-e63f9f1c74ef
ORCID for Timothy G. Leighton: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-1649-8750

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 01 Feb 2007
Last modified: 14 Mar 2019 01:53

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