MessageToEagle.com - Scientists at the University of Manchester have developed a camera that can be used to take
powerful three dimensional colour X-ray images, in near real-time, without the need for a synchrotron X-ray source.
Its ability to identify the composition of the scanned object could radically improve security screening at airports, medical
imaging, aircraft maintenance, industrial inspection and geophysical exploration.
The X-Ray system developed by Professor Robert Cernik and colleagues from The School of Materials can identify chemicals and
compounds such as cocaine, semtex, precious metals or radioactive materials even when they’re contained inside a relatively
large object like a suitcase.
The team used the technology to X-ray a USB dongle that controls webcams. Credits: University of Manchester
The method could also be extended to detect strain in fabricated components, for example in aircraft wings, and it can be used
to image corrosion processes and chemical changes.
In healthcare, the system can be used to detect abnormal tissue types from biopsy samples. In geophysical exploration it could
be used to quickly analyse the content of core samples taken from bore holes.
In a recent experiment the team used the technology to X-ray a USB dongle that controls webcams. They were able to identify the
different elements and components inside the dongle by analysing the energy sensitive radiographs and fluorescence patterns.
The elements or components were highlighted in different colours to clearly identify them to the system operators.
“The fact that we can now use this technology in a laboratory setting is a substantial step
"When we first developed the idea five years ago we needed the power of a synchrotron to produce the X-Rays.
In addition we only had access to silicon based detectors. This is a problem because silicon is a light atom and will not
stop the high energy X-rays that come through large objects."
"Now we can achieve the same imaging results with an 80 x 80 pixel camera (made from cadmium zinc telluride) that
supports real-time hyperspectral X-ray imaging up to very high energies,” Professor Robert Cernik said.
"Current imaging systems such as spiral CAT scanners do not use all the information contained in the X-ray beam.
We can use all the wavelengths present to give a colour X-ray image in a number of different imaging geometries."
As well as providing more information about the object being X-rayed, this new technique also decreases the time it takes to
create a three dimensional image.
Rather than building up lots of separate images (mapping), the new system creates the image in one very simple scanning
motion which now only takes several minutes.
This has implications for using the X-ray system for medical purposes, as Professor Cernik explains: “The fact the image can be
taken at the same time as using more conventional methods and on the same timescale means more information can be gathered
from biopsy samples. This will more accurately differentiate between normal and abnormal tissue types reducing mis-diagnosis.”
The results of the tests have been published in the journal Analyst.
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