Conformable x-ray detector overcomes limitations of current systems

X-ray detector technology developed at Surrey University’s Advanced Technology Institute is claimed to overcome limitations of current systems and can be built inexpensively.

X-ray detector
Finger-mounted flexible, personal radiation dosimeter

In use, the new, conformable technology could be used in multiple applications including border control or medicine where detectors used for mammograms and dose measurements in radiotherapy are often rigid. This rigidity can cause errors in screening, or dose delivery to surrounding healthy tissue.

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, the researchers from the Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) describe 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 are reportedly able to achieve high sensitivity levels that can compete with current technologies, while operating at low voltages and over the entire x-ray energy range spectrum.

The team also proved that it is possible to create a device that conforms to the subject, which is not possible with current x-ray detector technology.

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 start-up has been formed to further develop this technology with health, food monitoring and pharmaceuticals sectors initially targeted.

Hashini Thirimanne, PhD student and 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, keep our borders more secure, and make sure that the food we eat is as safe as it could possibly be.”

ATI director and corresponding author Prof Ravi Silva, added: “We are incredibly proud of the young researchers at ATI who have progressed this project and have produced technology that could very well save lives and make the world safer. We look forward to helping the team bring this technology to market.”