Next Generation Quantitative Acoustic Microscopy for Biomedical Application

Quantitative Acoustic Microscopy (QAM) is an imaging modality employing very high-frequency ultrasound >200 MHz to form two-dimensional (2D) quantitative images or acoustical and mechanical properties of soft tissues with microscopic resolution (~1 to 8 μm).

Jonathan Mamou, Ph.D., Weill Cornell Medicine (WCM) associate professor of electrical engineering in radiology, recently acquired an R01 National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant expected to “revolutionize” QAM by producing the next generation of QAM systems. “If successful,” says Mamou, “our research will change the current paradigm of QAM imaging by fostering less-expensive, faster, and easier-to-use QAM systems that will provide quantitative tissue-property images with greatly improved spatial resolution for an extremely wide range of applications in academic, clinical, and industrial settings. Our expectation is that QAM systems will become common in microscopy suites around the world.”

Specifically, the new R01 will let Mamou’s team apply advanced data science and novel experimental approaches, for the first time, to QAM technology to yield better image quality, decreased scanning time, and greater ease of use. The grant will let the team, in other words, pave the way for a new generation of novel, low-cost, user-friendly QAM instruments. QAM permits the formation of fine resolution (<7 μm at 250 MHz) maps of acoustic and mechanical properties of thin tissue (i.e., <12 μm) sections. These quantitative 2D images can be valuable in numerous preclinical investigations and cannot currently be obtained via any other microscopic-imaging modality. 

Thus, the new generation of QAM technology made possible by the success of this proposed project could become widespread in research laboratories and microscopy suites in commercial and academic research environments, Dr. Mamou notes. He points out that technicians with limited knowledge of QAM could even use next-generation QAM instruments. “In many ways, their use would be no more complicated than use of a conventional bright-field microscope.”

“Our expectation is that QAM systems will become common in microscopy suites around the world.”

He adds that his team’s novel approaches to QAM “will be demonstrated using already available resolution targets, phantoms, and biological tissues (e.g., ocular-tissue samples). During this project, optimal methods will be incorporated in a prototype QAM (pQAM) instrument capable of producing ultra-fine spatial resolution (< 2 μm) images much faster (<1 min) and for a much lower cost (<$40k) than current state-of-the-art QAM systems. In addition, pQAM use will be 'turn-key,' " requiring no technical knowledge and less than one hour of training.

Dr. Mamou is an associate professor of electrical engineering in radiology in the Department of Radiology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City. Before April 2022, he was the associate research director of the F. L. Lizzi Center for Biomedical Engineering at Riverside Research. He is coeditor of the book “Quantitative Ultrasound in Soft Tissues” and an associate editor of Ultrasonic Imaging and the IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control. He is recognized internationally for his unique expertise and pioneering research in biomedical ultrasound. His fields of interest include theoretical aspects of ultrasonic scattering, ultrasonic medical imaging, ultrasound contrast agents, and biomedical image processing. 

For more, see the NIH Reporter entry for grant number 1R01GM143388-01A1.

Weill Cornell Medicine
Department of Radiology
525 East 68th Street New York, NY 10065