Detectors that are presently used for mammograms and for dose measurements in radiotherapy are often rigid, causing errors in screening, or dose delivery to surrounding healthy tissue. This has raised concerns of additional tissue damage or the growth of secondary tumors.
While flexible x-ray films such as those used in dentistry or chest x-rays bypass this issue, they are not able to achieve real-time imaging. Similarly, high-speed monitoring of people and vehicles over large geographical areas, which is important in border security, is impeded with the current technology.
In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers detail how they have developed an x-ray detector by embedding oxide nanoparticles in a bulk organic structure that allows for large area detectors to be produced inexpensively. The detectors created by ATI researchers are able to achieve high sensitivity levels that strongly compete with current technologies, while still operating at low voltages, as well as over the whole x-ray energy range spectrum.
The team also proved that it is possible to create a device that conforms to the subject - something that is not possible with current x-ray detectors. This means that it could be possible for breast cancer screenings to be carried out by adapting the x-ray detector arrays to the specification of different patients. A new start-up company to further develop this technology and bring it to market - looking specifically at the health, food monitoring and pharmaceuticals sectors -- has been formed.
The lead author of the study said: "Our new technology has the potential to transform many industries that rely on x-ray detectors. We believe that this innovation could help save lives, and keep our borders more secure, and make sure that the food we eat is as safe as it could possibily be."
High sensitivity flexible X-ray detector
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