60th Anniversary of Prof. K. Baršauskas Ultrasound Research Institute

Establishment of the ultrasound laboratory at Kaunas Polytechnical Institute

11 February 2020 marks 60 years from the establishment of Prof. K. Baršauskas Ultrasound Research Institute. Its origins go back to the independent Ultrasound Laboratory established at the initiative of the Rector of Kaunas Polytechnical Institute prof. K. Baršauskas; its first head was doc. Enrikas Jaronis. The main science field of the laboratory was the ultrasonic interferometry for liquid media, i.e., analysis of physical-chemical properties of liquids. In 1965, one year after the death of prof. K. Baršauskas, the Ultrasound Laboratory was renamed after him. In 1962, the Departmental Laboratory for Ultrasound Installation in Industry was established; later it was renamed the Research Laboratory for Ultrasonic Measurement Technology. It was the place where the outsourced research works were conducted applying the research results in practice.

After the death of prof. K. Baršauskas, the research in the area of interferometry were continued by his students and post-graduates. Vladislavas Domarkas analysed the properties of broadband interferometers, Rimantas Stripinis created a differential interferometer for the analysis of electrolytes, Albinas Tamašauskas conducted complex research of ultrasonic speed and absorption in binary mixtures. Antanas Ribikauskas improved the measurements of ultrasonic absorption. The works by Rimvydas Povilas Žilinskas, Algirdas Voleišis, Vidas Sukackas were solving the issues of the automation of measurements, creating the first digital interferometers. One of the first created ultrasonic interferometers was exhibited at the Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy in Moscow in 1964 where it attracted huge interest and the ultrasound laboratory received orders for its production. In 1967, an ultrasonic digital interferometer (authors E. Jaronis, A. Voleišis, R. Žilinskas) was exhibited at the global exhibition EKSPO-67 in Montreal. In 1969, Enrikas Jaronis, Vytautas Ilgūnas, Kazimieras Baršauskas (posthumously) became the winners of the LSSR Republican Prize for their work in the area of interferometry.

A precision ultrasonic laser interferometer (author A. Voleišis) was also created at KPI; in 1986, it was recognised as the SSRS reference device for ultrasonic speed measurement in liquids. The ultrasonic laser interferometer is used in metrology for the calibration of the devices with lower precision, in molecular acoustics for the structural analysis of liquids and solutions, in medicine and biology for the analysis of blood coagulation process and analysis of other biological liquids. A new important area of ultrasonic research was discovered in 1970 – piezoelectric converters and ultrasonic devices and the research supervisor of this area was V. Domarkas. His first post-graduates Rymantas Jonas Kažys, Josifas Guščia, Eugenijus Pileckas, Algimantas Petrauskas developed and theoretically analysed a range of piezoelectric converters with a new modification. A post-graduate Algis Mašonis created the first ultrasonic locators operating in the gas, Stanislovas Sajauskas was developing the theory of point-to-point converters (probes) and the issues of the measurement of ultrasonic intensity using laser methods.

In 1972, a researcher of the Ultrasound Laboratory L. Sereikaitė-Juozonienė discovered a new physical phenomenon – longitudinal surface waves – and wrote about it in the 4th edition of the scientific journal “Ultragarsas”; however, SSRS Invention Committee did not acknowledge this discovery. Only later, the research of the scientists from other countries confirmed the existence of these waves. The priority of the discovery by L. Juozonienė was essentially confirmed in the globally recognised directory J. Krautkraemer, H. Krautkraemer “Werkstoffprüfung mit Ultrashall” (“Ultrasonic Analysis of Materials”), published by the Springer-Verlag publishers in 1986. Later, these waves were analysed by S. Sajauskas and doctoral students.

In 1976, V. Domarkas and R. J. Kažys became the winners of the LSSR Republican Prize. During that period, approximately 30 employees were working at KPI Ultrasound Laboratories. Since 1989, with the changes in the political situation in Lithuania and the beginning of the end of the former Soviet Union, the research funding conditions fundamentally changed, the former business contacts with the main customers ordering research-analysis works – the institutes of the SSRS Academy of Sciences and the institutions of the military-industrial complex – were broken.

Ultrasound research and achievements at Kaunas University of Technology

When Lithuania won its independence, on 31 October 1990, Kaunas Polytechnical Institute became Kaunas University of Technology with respective changes in its structure. On 11 December 1991, by the decision of KTU Senate, KTU Prof. K. Baršauskas Ultrasound Institute was established at the base of Prof. K. Baršauskas Ultrasound Research Laboratory and the Ultrasound Design-Construction Division. In 1993, it became the structural department of the Faculty of Radiotechnics and in 1995, it was reorganised into the Research Laboratories of Acoustic Location and Flow Diagnostics. The name of Prof. K. Baršauskas was given to the Ultrasonic Measurement Technology Laboratory which received high evaluation during the evaluation of the Lithuanian scientific and technical potential conducted at the initiative of the Danish Technological Institute and the United Nations Organisation. KTU scientists in the area of ultrasound were highly regarded in Lithuania as well: in 1995, the Prize in the name of prof. K. Baršauskas in the area of electronics was awarded by the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences to Algirdas Voleišis, Reimondas Šliteris, Liudas Mažeika, Rymantas Jonas Kažys and Kazimieras Kundrotas and in 1998 – to Stanislovas Sajauskas. In 1996, Prof. K. Baršauskas Ultrasound Research Centre was established at the base of three ultrasound laboratories; its head was prof. habil. dr. R. J. Kažys. In 1999, after the reorganisation of the Ultrasound Research Centre, Prof. K. Baršauskas Ultrasound Research Institute was established. In 2001, the Institute was separated from the Faculty of Telecommunications and Electronics and became the department of the university.

In the first years of independence, the economic situation provided for more significant support from the Government; therefore, the search for foreign partners began by announcing the research results in international scientific journals in the area of ultrasound and participating in conferences. Another direction was the application of ultrasonic measurements in Lithuania. Since 1991, creative cooperation began with Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant that continued until its closing in 2009. During this cooperation, various ultrasonic measurement systems were developed and installed. During the ultrasonic research of the structural dynamics in biological liquids conducted by the scientists of the Research Laboratory of Ultrasound Measurement Technology senior researcher A. Voleišius, dr. R. Šliteris, dr. B. Voleišienė and others in cooperation with the team from Kaunas Cardiology Institute led by prof., habil. dr. Pranas Grybauskas, the ultrasonic blood coagulation testing system was created and installed in 1995. The search for partners and dissemination of information about our works in the area of ultrasonic measurements also produced results. Since 1997, the scientists of KTU Ultrasound Research Centre began participating in the projects financed by the European Community.

The first project INCO-COPERNICUS was designated to create an innovative ultrasonic navigation system for the control of semi-autonomous transportation equipment. In 1995-2004, a number of the projects of the PHARE programme were implemented for the improvement of safety at Ignalina NPP. Various partners and commercial clients from Western Europe started outsourcing research works. Since 2001, the cooperation agreement with the Belgium Nuclear Research Centre SCK-CEN is being implemented for the “Creation of the Ultrasonic Visualisation System for the Accelerator Excitation System of the (Nuclear Reactor) Under the Programme MYRRHA”. At the initiative of the scientists of the Ultrasound Institute, the Lithuanian Society for Non-Destructive Testing and Technical Diagnostics was established in 2006 (president prof. R. Kažys, chairman of the council dr. R. Šliteris); it is the full member of the European Federation for Non-Destructive Testing (EFNDT) and the International Committee for Non-Destructive Testing (ICNDT). R. J. Kažys and L. Mažeika were elected as members of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences for their works in the area of ultrasonic measurement and diagnostics and were awarded the Lithuanian Science Prize in 2016. In 2018, R. J. Kažys was recognised as the best scientist of Kaunas City in the area of natural sciences, biology and technologies. Currently, Prof. K. Baršauskas Ultrasound Research Institute has a unique infrastructure of research that almost none of the Baltic States has. In recent years, the institute (director – prof. L. Mažeika) conducts research in the following areas: ultrasonic measurement and diagnostics methods in extreme conditions; development and research of ultrasonic special purpose measurement converters; ultrasonic visualisation systems; ultrasonic research methods for composite materials; application of guided ultrasonic waves for non-destructive testing of sheet materials; application of signal processing methods in ultrasonic measurement; excitation and propagation of acoustic waves; application of ultrasonic methods in medicine and analysis of physical-chemical properties of materials using ultrasonic methods.

The Ultrasound Research Institute has been and is participating in many international projects financed by the European Union Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and H2020 framework programmes. Research is also conducted under contracts with the Lithuanian and foreign enterprises or institutions. The main clients and projects: contract with the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant for the creation of the nuclear reactor analysis system; long-term cooperation agreement with the Belgium Nuclear Research Centre SCK-CEN under the programme MYRRHA; one project implemented under the Fifth Framework Programme (FP5); seven FP6 projects; fifteen FP7 projects, two projects under the “Eurostars” Programme. Currently, three Horizon 2020 projects are being implemented. In 60 years of its activities, 57 dissertations were defenced, more than 1000 publications were published in international scientific journals, more than 100 methods and measurement devices were created for various industrial and scientific applications, more than 150 patents were received.