Optimal focusing by spatio-temporal inverse filter. I. Basic principles

M. Tanter, J. F. Aubry, J. Gerber, J. L. Thomas, M. Fink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

173 Scopus citations


A focusing technique based on the inversion of the propagation operator relating an array of transducers to a set of control points inside a medium was proposed in previous work [Tanter et al., J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 108, 223-234 (2000)] and is extended here to the time domain. As the inversion of the propagation operator is achieved both in space and time, this technique allows calculation of the set of temporal signals to be emitted by each element of the array in order to optimally focus on a chosen control point. This broadband inversion process takes advantage of the singular-value decomposition of the propagation operator in the Fourier domain. The physical meaning of this decomposition is explained in a homogeneous medium. In particular, a definition of the number of degrees of freedom necessary to define the acoustic field generated by an array of limited aperture in a focal plane of limited extent is given. This number corresponds to the number of independent signals that can be created in the focal area both in space and time. In this paper, this broadband inverse-focusing technique is compared in homogeneous media with the classical focusing achieved by simple geometrical considerations but also with time-reversal focusing. It is shown that, even in a simple medium, slight differences appear between these three focusing strategies. In the companion paper [Aubry et al., J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1107 48-58 (2001)] the three focusing techniques are compared in heterogeneous, absorbing, or complex media where classical focusing is strongly degraded. The strong improvement achieved by the spatio-temporal inverse-filter technique emphasizes the great potential of multiple-channel systems having the ability to apply completely different signal waveforms on each transducer of the array. The application of this focusing technique could be of great interest in various ultrasonic fields such as medical imaging, nondestructive testing, and underwater acoustics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-47
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


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