Bigger imager for better scanners

Engineers at Sheffield University and STFC Rutherford-Appleton Laboratories have developed an imager that could produce more sensitive and faster images

Engineers at SheffieldUniversity and the STFC Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory have developed an imager that could produce more sensitive and faster images for medical applications.

The imager, the world’s largest, has been developed as part of the £4.5m Basic Technology MI-3 Consortium, and aims to help provide instant analysis of medical screening tests and the early detection of cancer.

The developers claim the technology is easier to use and faster than the imagers used in current body scanners, and offers large active pixel sensors with an imaging area of approximately 6cm square. The silicon imager, approximately 15 times larger in area than the latest Intel processors, has been specifically developed for use in X-ray imaging and mammography.

The next step of the project is to produce wafer-scale imagers that can produce images approaching the entire width of the human torso. This will eliminate the need for expensive and inefficient lenses and enable lower-cost, more sensitive and faster medical imaging systems.

Project leader Prof Nigel Allinson, from the university´s Vision and Information Engineering Group, said: ‘Very large active pixel sensors could soon be making a major impact on medical imaging by further reducing the need for the old technology of film. The UK is a world leader in such sensors for scientific and medical applications and this is a lead we intend to maintain.’

Dr Renato Turchetta, leader of the design team, said: ‘Wafer-scale CMOS sensors are now a reality and the team is ready to take the digital revolution a step further in order to revolutionise scientific and medical imaging.’