Thin-film technology for safe, non-invasive medical imaging

High-quality medical imaging is the cornerstone of diagnostics and an increasing suite of image-guided therapies. Using thin-film technologies, TNO at Holst Centre is opening up new possibilities for various medical imaging modalities by offering detection over larger areas.

Technology explained

Medical imaging is evolving rapidly with the rise of new large-area optical and near-infrared sensors. Based on technologies similar to those already used widely in the semiconductor and display industries, TNO at Holst Centre is developing large-area sensors for visible and near-infrared light. These can be used in applications ranging from unobtrusive pregnancy monitoring to pulse oximetry for monitoring skin grafts or arterial disease due to diabetes. In addition, our flexible, large-area ultrasound-on-foil technology enables handheld or hands-free imagers, as well as wearable patches for safe, non-invasive monitoring of even hard-to-image body parts in hospitals, at home and on the go.

A very promising innovation in the field of near-infrared technology from TNO at Holst Centre is continuous blood-pressure measuring. These long waves of light penetrate deep into the skin making it possible to register a person’s Pulse Wave Velocity (PWV). This measure for arterial stiffness relates directly to blood pressure. Instead of the traditional snapshot measuring with a blood pressure cuff, this infrared monitoring could be integrated into a comfortable wearable, such as a patch or even in clothing. This allows for continuous monitoring and a far more reliable diagnosis.

Societal benefits

With the current shift in healthcare from treatment to prevention it is expected that continuous at-home and on-the-go monitoring of patients will largely replace hospitalised diagnostics. This means abnormalities and diseases can be detected at a much earlier stage, so treatment is more effective and less expensive. With fewer monitoring activities being done at hospitals, valuable expertise and resources become available for treating patients.