There has been an emerging interest in high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) for therapeutic applications. By means of its thermal or mechanical effects, HIFU is able to serve as a direct tool for tissue ablation, or an indirect moderating medium to manipulate microbubbles or perform heating (hyperthermia) for the purpose of targeted drug delivery. The development and testing of HIFU based phased arrays is favorable as their elements allow for individual phasing to steer and focus the beam. While FDA has already approved tissue ablation by HIFU for the treatment of uterine fibroids (2004) and pain from bone metastases (2012), development continues on other possible applications that are less forgiving of incomplete treatment, such as thermal necrosis of malignant masses.

Ideally, each element, of such an array must have its own fully programmable electrical driving channel, which allows the control of delay, phase, and amplitude of the output from each element. To enable full control, each channel needs a waveform generator, an amplification device, and an impedance matching circuit between driver and acoustic element.

Similar projects utilizing this approach to drive therapeutic arrays include a 512-channel therapy system which was built at the University of Michigan using low cost Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) microcontroller and highly efficient MOSFET switching amplifiers [1]. However, this system lacks the ability to drive both, continuous wave (CW) and transient short duty-cycle high power pulses.

This paper presents a hybrid system, which is able to perform CW and transient short duty-cycle high power excitation. In the following we will describe the design, programming, fabrication, and evaluation of this radiofrequency (RF) driver system as used in our laboratory for a 1.5 MHz center frequency, 298-element array (Imasonic SA, Besancon, France) [2], FPGA-controlled amplifier boards and matching circuitry. Advantages of our design include: 1. Inexpensive components (<$15/channel); 2. Ability to program/drive individual output channels independently; 3. Sufficient time and amplitude resolution for various acoustic pattern design; 4. Capability of hybrid switching between low power CW and short duty cycle, high instantaneous power.