Texas Tech University - Radar

AWR and National Instruments Partner with Texas Tech for Biomedical Research Through Integrated Solutions


Customer Background

The Texas Tech University Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering offter students opportunities for course work and research experience leading to masters and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering. The electrical and computer engineering building houses excellent laboratories, classrooms, and computer facilities for teaching and research.

The Design Challenge

The RF and Analog Research Group at Texas Tech has been working with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) on research for high sensitivity radar for biomedical applications, specifically tumor tracking in cancer radiotherapy.

Lung cancer comprises 28 percent of all cancer deaths in the U.S. An increased radiation dose to the tumor will lead to improved local control and survival rates, however, because in many anatomic sites the tumors can move significantly with respiration, it is difficult to deliver a sufficient radiation dose directly to the tumor without the risk of damaging the surrounding healthy tissue. A technology known as respiratory gating or tumor tracking has been developed to overcome this problem. The technology is beneficial in that it locates tumors in real-time. However, current methods are either invasive to the patients or do not have sufficient accuracy.

The Solution

Graduate students at Texas Tech, under the direction of Dr. Changzhi Li and in partnership with NSF and CPRIT, have developed a smart DC-coupled radar sensor to track the tumor location and thus control the radiation beam. This revolutionary new method, called Smart Radar, is non-invasive, has no side effects or discomfort, and links directly to chest motion.

AWR partnered with parent company National Instruments to provide hardware, software, and mentoring for a course at Texas Tech that challenged students to design, lay out, and simulate the Smart Radar tumor tracking radar system using the AWR Design Environment™. The students then created a test bench for the system within NI’s LabVIEW and took measurements with the final prototype with NI PXI RF instruments.

This project was part of an overall effort by Texas Tech University to inspire engineering students to choose microwave engineering over competing subjects such as computer programming and robot development.  With the interest and enthusiasm generated by this tumor tracking research project, Texas Tech proceeded to offer a more hands-on centric microwave solid state circuit design course in which AWR and NI tools and technologies were employed.