The pioneer research of our device technologies, is on design of the non-invasive medical devices as well as more affordable medical imaging devices. However, the core expertise available in the group could also give rise to other novel RF devices, for example for oil and gas discovery, and various sensor technologies. Example of such applications in clearing landmine is listed below. The device technologies activity in the Centre has close synergy with robotics, and potentials for synergy with planning and the HCI research. There is also strong synergy with the core wireless communication activities of the centre, relying on the remote applications of devices. Few examples projects are detailed below.
This project will build on existing expertise by the project partners in the UK and China towards the development of a portable and low-cost system which can detect the occurrence, and monitor the evolution of stroke and its treatment using microwave technology. The proposed system will use low-power, non-ionizing radio waves (microwaves) to image the occurrence and evolution of stroke in an accurate manner, thereby removing the need for expensive imaging systems (such as CT scans) which would result in significant delays in treatment decisions.
This approach can address several clinical needs. For example, the system can be used inside an ambulance to determine the type of stroke much earlier than CT scanners inside a hospital. This is particularly important for ischemic stroke patients (which account for over 80% of total cases), for which early detection is crucial for thrombolytic treatment (i.e. blood thinners that can dissolve clots in blood vessels due to ischemic stroke but would worsen the condition of a blood vessel rupture occurring in hemorrhagic stroke). Moreover, by serving as a point of care diagnostic tool for patients at their homes, the proposed approach can lead to more efficient management of stroke in the post-acute stage, which can improve the potential recovery of the patient. The scanner can therefore revolutionise stroke therapy and recovery in communities where CT or MRI equipment is scarce or not available, such as underdeveloped or rural areas in China and other ODA countries.
The project will develop the microwave device relying on academic and industrial UK expertise in microwave imaging algorithms and instrumentation. In addition to offering academic expertise in microwave medical imaging, the project's ODA partners will accelerate the proposed device's pathway to clinical use through a network of hospitals and medical centres and cooperation with over 35 hospitals across 30 cities in China in the planning of clinical trials. Although delivered in China, the project can make a difference in many developing countries where stroke is emerging as a health threat also for younger populations (e.g. South Asian countries), as the targeted device will be affordable and simple enough to use.
EMERALD is the coherent action of leading European engineering groups involved in electromagnetic (EM) technology for medical imaging to form a cohort of highly-skilled researchers capable of accelerating the translation of this technology "from research bench to patient bedside". EM imaging technology involves the illumination of the portion of the body under investigation with low-power non-ionizing EM waves in the microwave spectrum and the use of the resultant backscattered signals to generate images of the internal structure of the body.
The objective pursued by EMERALD is to accelerate translation of research in EM medical imaging into clinical prototypes. To this end, EMERALD will establish a group of 13 outstanding early stage researchers who will be the European leaders in this field, through a unique scientific and training programme. The EMERALD consortium involves academic institutions, industrial partners, hospitals and university medical centres.
A CLEAR ROAD AHEAD
Clearing landmines both saves and improves lives in numerous different ways. Demining can help a community access agricultural land, markets and food supply, schools, hospitals and other essential services, through the clearing of transportation links and routes. By clearing anti-personnel (AP) and anti-vehicle mines (AVMs) from roads and fields, people and communities are reconnected, and this can bring huge socio-economic benefits to developing countries where these are most needed. Clearing AVMs from roads can also be a prerequisite for other aid agencies and government services to access remote communities. It restores freedom of movement and fosters freedom from fear. However, efforts to clear roads and fields from the threat of landmines are complicated by two issues: 1) the slow speed of current demining approaches particularly for certain classes of landmine; and 2) the need to prioritise the order in which different areas and land types are cleared for maximum benefit in the shortest possible timeframe.
We propose a project to tackle both of these issues, creating a new technological tool for detecting landmines alongside a methodology for examining cultural, political, and socio-economic factors at the national, district, and even community levels. This approach can guarantee the deployment of the technology for the greatest possible benefit in the shortest possible time. To the best of our knowledge this is the first time that a combined strategy of this kind has been attempted. The particular target of the project is minimum-metal AVMs laid in roads and fields, which is a class of landmines that is very difficult to detect by other methods, and thus very slow and costly to clear. Beyond this synergistic approach, the project will benefit from the unique advantages of our proposed technology for the clearance of AVMs. This is because our sensor relies on a frequency-sensitive detection of the explosive material, which is contained in large quantities in anti-vehicle mines.
The sensor's underlying technology is based on a quadrupole resonance (QR) approach, which relies on a simple detection mechanism: a pulse or series of radiofrequency (RF) pulses is applied at a particular frequency for the explosives of interest, and the presence (or absence) of a return signal is sought. As with metal detectors, a specially-designed planar RF antenna is placed close to ground level and fed with a sequence of RF pulses at or close to the QR frequency of the explosive to be detected. The same antenna is then used to detect the weak signals emitted by the explosive following the excitation. The important difference from metal detection is that it is the actual explosive contained within the mine that is detected and not any feature of the mine (such as the casing or the trigger), so the false alarm rate is low. This is particularly important for humanitarian demining, which aims to clear most, if not all, of the landmines in the interrogated terrain.
DeMoStroke (£800k, EPSRC, 2018-2021) : Low-Cost, Portable Microwave Scanner.
A Clear Road Ahead (£1M, EPSRC, 2017-2019) : Freeing Affected Communities from Anti-Vehicle Landmines.
For more check here.