Friday, May 31, 2013

CST interviews Dr Maciej Klemm, University of Bristol

Every year, we give the CST University Publication Award to researchers who’ve found innovative uses for CST STUDIO SUITE® in academic research. Dr Maciej Klemm, currently at the University of Bristol, UK, has won the award twice, once in 2006 as part of a group investigating antennas for body-area networks, and once in 2010 for a paper on contrast-enhanced imaging with UWB microwave radar. We spoke to him about his recent work and asked him how he uses simulation in his work.

CST: Thank you for taking the time to speak to us. Could you please give a quick overview of the UWB radar system and the work of your group?

Klemm: At Bristol we have been working on the development of the UWB radar system for breast cancer imaging for almost 10 years now. During this time we have built several prototype microwave imaging systems, which are being tested in Bristol hospitals. This work was so successful that we are now working on totally new applications of UWB radar for medical applications. A couple of years ago I was awarded the EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellowship grant for a large, multi-disciplinary project with the aim of developing new UWB imaging systems for neuro-functional imaging, and developing contrast-enhanced cancer detection.

CST:  The paper that won the University Publication Award in 2010 proposed a method of contrast-enhanced imaging. Could you give a little background to this?

Klemm: The contrast-enhanced imaging part of the project is related to our previous experience during clinical trials. When imaging cancer patients, we identified significant challenges when imaging tumors in very dense and heterogeneous breast tissues. In these very difficult cases, standard microwave radar imaging is less useful, and that is why I have proposed to use special contrast agents. Our first results are very encouraging and by the end of the project we hope to perform pre-clinical tests. The same principle, differential imaging, can be used in many other applications, and in my current project I am targeting neuro-functional imaging. The same system could be used to monitor brain injuries or bleeding.      

CST: What advantages does using microwaves to scan for breast cancer have over traditional methods like mammograms, MRI or ultrasound?

Klemm: The main advantages of microwave imaging systems would be low cost, non-ionizing radiation, three-dimensional images and portable equipment. However, there is still a long way to go for microwave imaging. The most urgent need is to prove its technical capabilities in realistic clinical tests. This unfortunately is costly and time consuming, and it is mainly for this reason that only few places in the world have performed clinical work in microwave imaging.  

CST: How did you use EM simulation, and CST software in particular, in the development of the device?

Klemm: EM simulations are indispensable in developing microwave imaging systems, starting with the design of a single antenna (EM sensor), through simulations of the fully populated antenna array and finally 3D numerical imaging with MRI-derived breast or brain phantoms. CST has a great GUI which saves us a lot of time, it offers acceleration of computations with GPU support, and with macro programming it gives a very convenient way of building dedicated and specialized 3D phantoms of different tissues.  

CST: How is work on the detector going? What will the next stage be?

Klemm: Regarding the EPSRC CAF project, this year we are planning to build two imaging prototypes, one for contrast-enhanced cancer detection and one for neuro-functional imaging. We have already done all required numerical EM modeling with CST MICROWAVE STUDIO®, and from this year on we will focus on practical work. The ultimate goal at the moment is a pre-clinical study on mice.  

CST: You've won the CST University Publication Award twice now. How has the award helped you and your group in carrying out research?

Klemm: I was very lucky to win CST awards and the free licenses have helped in our research tremendously. CST is always very supportive of our research and we have a very good working relationship, especially in regard to support.