Polyvinyl alcohol cryogel phantoms of biological tissues for wideband operation at microwave frequencies

N. Arteaga-Marrero; E. Villa; J. González-Fernández; Y. Martín; J. Ruiz-Alzola
Bibliographical reference

PLoS One

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The aim of this work is to provide a methodology to model the dielectric properties of human tissues based on phantoms prepared with an aqueous solution, in a semi-solid form, by using off-the-shelf components. Polyvinyl alcohol cryogel (PVA-C) has been employed as a novel gelling agent in the fabrication of phantoms for microwave applications in a wide frequency range, from 500 MHz to 20 GHz. Agar-based and deionized water phantoms have also been manufactured for comparison purposes. Mathematical models dependent on frequency and sucrose concentration are proposed to obtain the complex permittivity of the desired mimicked tissues. These models have been validated in the referred bandwidth showing a good agreement to experimental data for different sucrose concentrations. The PVA-C model provides a great performance as compared to agar, increasing the shelf-life of the phantoms and improving their consistency for contact-required devices. In addition, the feasibility of fabricating a multilayer phantom has been demonstrated with a two-layer phantom that exhibits a clear interface between each layer and its properties. Thus, the use of PVA-C extends the option for producing complex multilayer and multimodal phantoms.

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