A Paimpolais in the running for the European Inventor award

Fifty images per second. It is the speed at which the eye sees the world. So what’s the point of trying to create a machine that can read data even faster? Yet this is what the French have achieved Mickaël Tanter and Mathias Fink. The first is from Paimpol, in the Côtes-d’Armor.

“The invisible of ultra-rapidity was bound to give something”

All of this goes back twenty years. The two men meet at the end of the 1990s and together begin a thesis within the school. ESPCI – PSL sure “The concept of a mirror with time reversal, for the waves”, traces Mickaël Tanter, remained at Paimpol until the end of his college before entering the naval high school of Brest and start a preparation for Rennes then to fly to Supéléc, in Paris.

These complex terms hide an innovative research project: “Non-invasive surgery, using ultrasound. “ Imagery already existed, but at a slower rate, “So the invisible of the ultra-fast had to give something. “

Mickael Tanter, originally from Paimpol (Côtes-d’Armor), is one of the two French people nominated for the 2021 edition of the European Inventor Prize. © DR / HEINZ TROLL

“We wanted to see the vibration inside the body. It turns out that the speed of the shear wave is related to the hardness, continues Mickael Tanter. And hardness is an important parameter in the medical field. “ Palpation of the body is indeed used to notice pathologies.

Ten years for the concept and the prototype

The waves sent make it possible to know the internal texture of the body. If the returned data does not comply, its color alerts the professional.

The shear waves are like a small blow given in the stomach, and which makes the skin vibrate. These waves are used to represent the hardness of the body. The image appears red on the screen if the fabric is hard, blue if it is softer.

Their first publication on this subject came out in 1998. It took them ten years to create a concept and manufacture a prototype ultrasound machine that could read body tissue.

“During the first experiments in 2002, the film lasted 0.5 seconds. It took an hour to analyze it. In 2006, we needed 5.6 seconds. It was 0.2 seconds of computation in 2009. Today, there is no longer this time », notes the one who is also research director at theInserm.

Their tool now makes it possible to avoid using unnecessary biopsies, for breast cancer, for example. Their CNRS-ESPCI patent is licensed to the company Super Sonic Imagine, which they themselves created. Manufacturers have since bought part of their patent.

The two inventors, who are now working on heart stiffness or brain imaging, are the only two French people competing for the European Inventor Prize 2021, in the research category. An award given by the European Patent Office. Votes are already open. Ceremony will take place on June 17th, by videoconference.


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