Ultrasound is a high-frequency sound that is inaudible to the human ear. Typically, it refers to mechanical vibrations above the frequency of 20 kHz. The characteristics of ultrasound are analogous to the normally audible sound waves. Ultrasounds are used in a number of fields including navigation, medicine, imaging, cleaning, communication, etc.
Uses of Ultrasound
Medical ultrasound, also known as sonography, is a medical examination test that makes use of high-frequency sound waves to get a detailed image of the body organs and internal structures of a living being. The property of high-frequency sound waves by virtue of which they can travel long distances and are able to penetrate through muscles and tissues easily is utilized in sonography. It is primarily used to monitor the growth of the fetus during pregnancy and to detect the anomalies present in various body organs such as kidneys, liver, etc.
SONAR or sound navigation and ranging is a device that makes use of ultrasonic waves or ultrasounds to detect the location and nature of an obstacle present underwater. These sound waves are inaudible to the human ear. Such waves bounce back after striking an obstacle. The reflected wave is captured by the detector, and the time taken for the wave to strike the obstacle and return back is noted. The time taken by the wave to reach the detector and the speed with which the wave travels is known, thereby allowing the user to calculate the location and distance of the object easily.
3. Surgical Use
Ultrasounds are often used to cure numerous medical conditions such as cataracts, kidney problems, etc. For instance, when the kidneys of a person suffering from kidney stones are exposed to ultrasound rays, the stones begin to vibrate at a rapid rate. The vibration of stones caused due to ultrasonic waves eventually causes them to break down into finer particles. These fine particles then get flushed out along with urine. This process is known as lithotripsy.
Ultrasounds are often used to clean congested parts of a machine. It is also used to remove waste from the pipes that consist of smaller diameter or from the spiral pipe. The high frequency of the ultrasound causes the dirt particles to vibrate. The motion-induced in the particles eases the process of elimination.
5. Detect Cracks
One of the prime applications of ultrasounds is that they are used to detect the cracks present in metal blocks. For this purpose, the block of metal is exposed to ultrasounds. The soundwaves bounce back after striking a flaw in the block and get detected by the detector, thereby allowing the inspection person in charge to know about the nature of the crack and eliminating the need to cut open the block.
Echocardiography is the process of obtaining a medical image of the heart with the help of ultrasound or ultrasonic sounds. It allows the doctors get a moving or live image of the heart by exposing the heart to ultrasonic waves and detecting the waves that get reflected back after striking the walls or chambers of the heart. The process of echocardiography is painless and safe.
Echolocation is the process that makes use of ultrasounds or ultrasonic sounds to determine the location and distance of the objects present nearby. One of the best examples of echolocation in nature is the method followed by bats and dolphins to locate the obstacles present near them. Bats do not have a proper vision, which is why they use echolocation to avoid obstacles while flying and looking for food in the dark. They transmit a high-frequency sound wave in the air, the sound then hits the obstacle present in their pathway and returns back. The characteristic of the received sound helps the bat determine the size, shape, and distance of the object. A similar process is used by blind and visually impaired people to get knowledge of the objects present around them.