This article introduces the ABLIC’s Healthcare ICs, the Ultrasound Digital Transmit Pulsars, the Ultrasound Linear Transmit Pulsars and the High-Voltage Analog Switches. The red frame in the Figure 1 shows an analog front-end of an ultrasonic diagnostic equipment and above ICs are used in it. For example, two types of the ultrasound transmit pulsars, the Ultrasound Digital Transmit Pulsars which output high-quality square waves and the Ultrasound Linear Transmit Pulsars which output the high-quality arbitrary waveforms are used for midrange models’ and high-end models’ ultra sound transmit function as shown in the Figure 2. Both realize excellent positive and negative-pulse symmetry on the output waveform by synchronizing phase of the output wave thoroughly and adjusting the distortion of the amplifier as far as possible. The High-Voltage Analog Switches support the high voltage of 200V with single 5V power supply. ABLIC is developing a next-generation product which supports 400V.
By the way, when and where these technologies capable of realizing high healthcare quality cultivated? As you know, the predecessor of ABLIC was SII Semiconductor Corporation and its roots, Daini Seikosha Co., Ltd. started research and development of CMOS IC in 1968. The company has been developing ICs for 50 years. And in 2016, healthcare ICs are added to the ABLIC’s product line. Actually, these healthcare ICs are the products Hitachi, Ltd., with over 40-year history of CMOS IS, has researched and developed since 2005 and in accordance with a review of Hitachi’s business portfolio, the business transfer has been realized. ABLIC’s healthcare ICs are based on the long history and the expertise of both companies.
ABLIC’s healthcare ICs with the assured technology are used around the world. Figure 3 shows the primary customers and the ratio of the products. 5 major companies in the U.S., Europe and Japan occupy approximately 80% of the sales. They are the manufacturers developing midrange and high-end models of the ultrasonic diagnostic equipment as mentioned in the beginning. In order to find new customers while gaining high reputation from existing market, it is necessary to review how the remaining 20% of the customers such as the companies in China use the ICs and how the usage of the ultrasonic diagnostic equipment in medical institutions has been evolving.
The ultrasonic diagnostic equipment has been used in internal medicines, gynecology and obstetrics to check up internal organs and children in mothers’ womb. But recently, it is used in the field of orthopedics to check conditions of muscles in a body such as a stiff shoulder or a muscle strain. These can not be found out by x-ray machines. And as shown in the Figure 4, portable testing devices, embedding front-end features in the probe head and transmitting the data to the tablet and so on wirelessly, are developed and put to practical use primarily in China. Currently, the image quality is not so good but improving the image quality, saving the data from the probe to a memory and making a system which transmit the result to a healthcare agency will provide the new service anyone can test anytime, anywhere. In Europe, such a service structure has already been preparing and expectant mothers can take their condition data by themselves, send it to a healthcare agency and have a regular prenatal checkup at home.
As IoT of the medical equipment progresses, it can be used to the remote medical care and the disaster medical assistance as well as the personalized medicine. It will also contribute to reduce healthcare costs and increase healthy life expectancy.
Next time, I will examine the analog switches which support the high voltage of 200V with single 5V power supply and the ultrasound transmit ICs output square waves and arbitrary waveforms from different perspectives, applying to outside of the medical health field.