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Hitachi’s latch-up-free, SOI-based chips enable new generations of compact medical ultrasound systems.

Medical challenge

Ultrasound systems need to be smaller, more cost-effective, and higher performance – without compromising reliability.

Design challenge

Ultrasound is based on high-voltage pulses that drive transducers, which create and receive bursts of sound waves. Low-power, high-performance electronics control a complex set of amplitudes, frequencies, direction and depth-of-focus. Increasing footprint constraints are pushing designers to embed the control electronics on the pulsar IC.  Cost-effective and highly reliable solutions are required to prevent the high-voltage, analog drivers from causing fatal “latch-up” in the low-power, digital control electronics.

Hitachi’s 8-channel +/-100V/2.5A SOI-based, fully-integrated Ultrasound Pulser is at the heart of leading edge systems. (Courtesy: Hitachi Medical Systems and Micro Device Division)

SOI solution

The layer of insulation in an SOI substrate prevents latch-up without resorting to complicated design and manufacturing techniques.

Hitachi has developed an SOI-LDMOS technology that enables 250V high-voltage elements to be safely embedded in low-voltage, digital technology.

Designers for the company’s Medical Systems group leveraged this in an 8-channel, fully-integrated, SOI-based pulser IC for medical ultrasound imaging applications. It has the advantage of being a high performance, cost-effective solution for compact board spaces, as compared to conventional discrete solutions. The single-chip, SOI-based technology reduces the number of external components and power supplies as compared with conventional technologies such as AC coupling via external capacitors, external power supplies, etc.

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