Ultrasound


Ultrasound is a cyclic sound pressure wave with a frequency greater than the upper limit of the human hearing range. Ultrasound is thus not separated from "normal" (audible) sound based on differences in physical properties, only the fact that humans cannot hear it. Although this limit varies from person to person, it is approximately 20 kilohertz (20,000 hertz) in healthy, young adults. Ultrasound devices operate with frequencies from 20 kHz up to several gigahertz. Ultrasound is used in many different fields. Ultrasonic devices are used to detect objects and measure distances. Ultrasonic imaging (sonography) is used in human and veterinary medicine. In non-destructive testing of products and structures, ultrasound is used to detect invisible flaws. Industrially, ultrasound is used for cleaning and for mixing, and to accelerate chemical processes. Organisms such as bats and porpoises use ultrasound for locating prey and obstacles.[1] Approximate frequency ranges corresponding to ultrasound, with rough guide of some applications A fetus in its mother's womb, viewed at 12 weeks of pregnancy (bidimensional-scan) An ultrasonic examination in East Germany, 1990 Ultrasonics is the application of ultrasound. Ultrasound can be used for imaging, detection, measurement, and cleaning. At higher power levels ultrasonics are useful for changing the chemical properties of substances. History Acoustics, the science of sound, starts s far back as Pythagoras in the 6th century BC, who wrote on the mathematical properties of stringed instruments. Sir Francis Galton constructed a whistle producing ultrasound in 1893. The first technological application of ultrasound was an attempt to detect icebergs by Paul Langevin in 1917. The piezoelectric effect discovered by Jacques and Pierre Curie in 1880 was useful in transducers to generate and detect ultrasonic waves in air and water.[2] Echolocation in bats was discovered by Lazzaro Spallanzani in 1794, when he demonstrated that bats hunted and navigated by inaudible sound and not vision. [edit]Perception of ultrasound [edit]Humans The upper frequency limit in humans (approximately 20 kHz) is due to limitations of the middle ear, which acts as a low-pass filter. Ultrasonic hearing can occur if ultrasound is fed directly into the skull bone and reaches the cochlea through bone conduction without passing through the middle ear.[3] Children can hear some high-pitched sounds that older adults cannot hear, because in humans the upper limit pitch of hearing tends to become lower with age.[4] A cell phone company has used this to create ring signals supposedly only able to be heard by younger humans;[5] but many older people can hear it, which may be due to the considerable variation of age-related deterioration in the upper hearing threshold. See also The Mosquito (an electronic device used to deter loitering by young people).