A new CT scanner design, featuring a potentially disruptive technology, has been developed by researchers from the University of North Carolina Hospitals, Siemens, and Xintek (Research Triangle Park, NC). The system, being prototyped by a joint venture of Siemens and Xintek, called XinRay, uses a distributed X-ray source made out of carbon nanotubes may replace contemporary machines that have a single source spinning gantry. Because one can trigger the nanotubes to fire instantaneously without any perceivable warm up time, it is possible to achieve high resolution volumetric images of even moving organs.
MIT Technology Review reports:
Instead of a single tungsten emitter, the UNC team uses an array of vertical carbon nanotubes that serve as hundreds of tiny electron guns. While tungsten requires time to warm up, the nanotubes emit electrons from their tips instantly when a voltage is applied to them…
The new machine turns multiple nanotube emitters on and off in sequence to take pictures from different angles without moving. Because the emitters turn on and off instantaneously, says Daniel Kopans, director of breast imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital, the system should be able to take more images every second. This faster exposure, Kopans says, should reduce blur, much as a high-speed camera captures ultrafast motion. Zhou and his colleagues have been able to take breast images at nearly twice the resolution of commercial scanners, using 25 simultaneous beams in a few seconds.