Experimental evaluation of indicators of nonlinearity for use in ultrasound transducer characterizations

Timothy A. Bigelow, William D. O'Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Because the number of applications for medical ultrasonic devices continue to increase and, hence, the number of diagnostic ultrasound (US) systems increase, there is a need to reliably characterize the sources in terms of their output pressures. Currently, the transducers are characterized by making pressure measurements in water for every voltage range applied to the source and, then, linearly derate the measured pressure values to estimate the derated acoustic pressure levels. The process is time-consuming and inaccuracies are introduced in the derating process due to nonlinear effects. Therefore, there is a need to find an indicator of nonlinearity that could classify the measured pressure waveform as either linear, where the derating procedure would yield an accurate derated acoustic pressure estimate, or nonlinear, where the derating process would fail. Eight different indicators of nonlinearity were evaluated experimentally using spherically focused US transducers. The transducers were selected to test the indicator sensitivity to frequency (3 to 8 MHz), f-number (1 and 2), and transducer diameter (1.905 and 5.08 cm). Sensitivity to drive voltage conditions was also tested by exciting one of the transducers with pulses of different duration and phase. None of the eight nonlinearity indicators yielded consistent results. The lack of consistency resulted from the competing effects of nonlinear absorption and asymmetrical distortion, which have yet to be combined into a unified theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1509-1520
Number of pages12
JournalUltrasound in Medicine and Biology
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - Nov 2002


  • Acoustic nonlinearity
  • Transducer calibration
  • Transducer characterization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Biophysics
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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