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  • Received: Mar. 13, 2020

    Accepted: Apr. 27, 2020

    Posted: Jun. 4, 2020

    Published Online: Jun. 4, 2020

    The Author Email: Cheng Ji-Xin (

    DOI: 10.1117/1.AP.2.3.036006

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    Lu Lan, Yueming Li, Tiffany Yang-Tran, Ying Jiang, Yingchun Cao, Ji-Xin Cheng. Ultraefficient thermoacoustic conversion through a split ring resonator[J]. Advanced Photonics, 2020, 2(3): 036006

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Advanced Photonics, Vol. 2, Issue 3, 036006 (2020)

Ultraefficient thermoacoustic conversion through a split ring resonator

Lu Lan1, Yueming Li2, Tiffany Yang-Tran1, Ying Jiang1, Yingchun Cao3, and Ji-Xin Cheng1,3,4,*

Author Affiliations

  • 1Boston University, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2Boston University, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 3Boston University, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 4Boston University Photonics Center, Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Microwaves, which have a ~10-cm wavelength, can penetrate deeper into tissue than photons, heralding exciting deep tissue applications such as modulation or imaging via the thermoacoustic effect. Thermoacoustic conversion efficiency is however very low, even with an exogenous contrast agent. We break this low-conversion limit, using a split ring resonator to effectively collect and confine the microwaves into a submillimeter hot spot for ultrasound emission and achieve a conversion efficiency over 2000 times higher than other reported thermoacoustic contrast agents. Importantly, the frequency of emitted ultrasound can be precisely tuned and multiplexed by modulation of the microwave pulses. Such performance is inaccessible by a piezoelectric-based transducer or a photoacoustic emitter and, therefore, split ring resonators open up new opportunities to study the frequency response of cells in ultrasonic biomodulation. For applications in deep tissue localization, a split ring resonator can be used as a wireless, battery-free ultrasound beacon placed under a breast phantom.


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