Timing- and trigger module for medical data acquisition system

In cooperation with our project partners INCAA has designed and manufactured a timing and trigger module for a breast cancer screening and diagnostics system based on photo acoustic imaging techniques.

Conventional techniques for detecting breast cancer, i.e. x-ray mammography, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), have several disadvantages. One of the most important is the inability to clearly distinguish a tumour from a benign abnormality or even healthy tissue. Other disadvantages are a.o. use of ionizing radiation, painful breast compression, use of contrast agents, or high cost.

Photoacoustic imaging allows the tumour to be displayed due to the high blood vessel density around it. Furthermore, the use of multiple wavelengths of light excitation combined with a robust mathematical analysis of the acquired data provides tumour-specific optical contrast. This allows differentiation between malignancies and benign lesions. However, photoacoustics alone cannot provide anatomic information, which is why ultrasound imaging is included as well.

The photoacoustic imaging data acquisition system of which the timing and trigger module is part of consists of 512 analog I/O channels. Each channel is capable of transmitting ultrasound pulses and receiving the ultrasound signals generated by the selective thermoelastic expansion of blood caused by the laser light pulse or from an exited ultrasound transmitter from another analog I/O channel.

As heart of the system and to control all necessary trigger signals a timing and trigger module was required. INCAA has designed and manufactured it and delivered it to the project partners. The first generated photos of real samples show amazing results already.

Some features of the timing- and trigger module:


  • 16 synchronized clock and trigger channels
  • 6 TTL input and 6 TTL output channels
  • 8 internal programmable timing channels routable to TTL output channels
  • JTAG, USB and COM-port for programming and debugging on front panel
  • 1U rackmount 19” module with 24V DC power supply input
  • programmable through Gigabit Ethernet interface