Non-invasive microwave medical diagnostics and imaging


Nowadays, medical imaging and healthcare in general are facing an ever growing number of challenges, due to aging populations, which causes a growing burden of care on medical services. In this framework, medical imaging technologies play a key role, being the essential clinical tool to deliver accurate initial diagnosis and monitor the evolution of disease over time.

To date, the most widespread alternatives to X-Ray imaging are: ultrasound (US) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These are both excellent imaging modalities, but again have limitations, e.g., in terms of specificity / sensitivity and cost, respectively. For this reason, a whole range of new medical imaging modalities is currently being investigated and developed to supplement and support current modalities, such as for instance, optical coherence tomography (OCT) , hyperspectral imaging and multi-modal systems, e.g. photoacoustic imaging.
Among these technologies, there is microwave imaging, which involves the illumination of the portion of the body under investigation with low-power electromagnetic (EM) waves (in the GHz range of spectrum, sometimes called microwave spectrum) and the use of the resultant backscattered signals to generate images of the internal structures of the body. EM imaging does not aim at removing current, well-proven imaging modalities, but it can bring unique contributions to a number of clinical applications overcoming the above mentioned limitations, thanks to its inherent appealing properties:

  • EM imaging at microwave frequencies exhibits favorable penetration depths that allow imaging tissues deeper in the human body as compared to other emerging modalities (e.g. optical techniques);
  • EM imaging is completely harmless, since the involved waves are non-ionizing and used in very low doses (low-power EM waves).
  • EM technology is economically sustainable for the health-care system. Due to the progress in mobile industry and microwave devices in recent years, EM imaging has the potential to provide mobile, low-cost imaging platforms well suited to the above-mentioned future healthcare needs.

ERC sectors 

  • PE7_11 Components and systems for applications (in e.g. medicine, biology, environment)
  • PE7_6 Communication systems, wireless technology, high-frequency technology
  • PE7_3 Simulation engineering and modelling


  • Components and systems for medical applications
  • Electromagnetic (EM) imaging
  • Microwave imaging
  • Medical imaging