Acoustical properties of selected tissue phantom materials for ultrasound imaging

Phys Med Biol. 2007 Oct 21;52(20):N475-84. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/52/20/N02. Epub 2007 Oct 1.


This note summarizes the characterization of the acoustic properties of four materials intended for the development of tissue, and especially breast tissue, phantoms for the use in photoacoustic and ultrasound imaging. The materials are agar, silicone, polyvinyl alcohol gel (PVA) and polyacrylamide gel (PAA). The acoustical properties, i.e., the speed of sound, impedance and acoustic attenuation, are determined by transmission measurements of sound waves at room temperature under controlled conditions. Although the materials are tested for application such as photoacoustic phantoms, we focus here on the acoustic properties, while the optical properties will be discussed elsewhere. To obtain the acoustic attenuation in a frequency range from 4 MHz to 14 MHz, two ultrasound sources of 5 MHz and 10 MHz core frequencies are used. For preparation, each sample is cast into blocks of three different thicknesses. Agar, PVA and PAA show similar acoustic properties as water. Within silicone polymer, a significantly lower speed of sound and higher acoustical attenuation than in water and human tissue were found. All materials can be cast into arbitrary shapes and are suitable for tissue-mimicking phantoms. Due to its lower speed of sound, silicone is generally less suitable than the other presented materials.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustics / instrumentation*
  • Equipment Design
  • Equipment Failure Analysis
  • Materials Testing
  • Phantoms, Imaging*
  • Polymers / chemistry*
  • Scattering, Radiation
  • Ultrasonography / instrumentation*


  • Polymers