Ultrasound front-end receive designs for miniature, wireless, and/or matrix transducers can be simplified considerably by direct-element summation in receive. In this paper we develop a dual-stage beamforming technique that is able to produce a high-quality image from scanlines that are produced with focused transmit, and simple summation in receive (no delays). We call this non-delayed sequential beamforming (NDSB). In the first stage, low-resolution RF scanlines are formed by simple summation of element signals from a running sub-aperture. In the second stage, delay-and-sum beamforming is performed in which the delays are calculated considering the transmit focal points as virtual sources emitting spherical waves, and the sub-apertures as large unfocused receive elements. The NDSB method is validated with simulations in Field II. For experimental validation, RF channel data were acquired with a commercial research scanner using a 5 MHz linear array, and were subsequently processed offline. For NDSB, good average lateral resolution (0.99 mm) and low grating lobe levels (<-40 dB) were achieved by choosing the transmit as 0.75 and the transmit focus at 15 mm. NDSB was compared with conventional dynamic receive focusing (DRF) and synthetic aperture sequential beamforming (SASB) with their own respective optimal settings. The full width at half maximum of the NDSB point spread function was on average 20% smaller than that of DRF except for at depths <30 mm and 10% larger than SASB considering all the depths. NDSB showed only a minor degradation in contrast-to-noise ratio and contrast ratio compared to DRF and SASB when measured on an anechoic cyst embedded in a tissue-mimicking phantom. In conclusion, using simple receive electronics front-end, NDSB can attain an image quality better than DRF and slightly inferior to SASB.
- sequential beamforming
- synthetic aperture
- ultrasound front-end electronics
- ultrasound imaging