The European Space Agency has just announced that an innovative X-ray camera will going up into space on a Swedish Space Corporation launch in May of next year. The camera, built by Scint-X AB, has a “structured scintillator” at its heart. Created by NanoSpace, also a Swedish company, the scintillator features a material that produces luminescence when excited by ionizing X-ray radiation. The new camera provides a much higher resolution and improved contrast on a small scale and will be used to study “melting and solidification of metals when producing exotic materials in weightlessness,” Because of its size and capabilities, it is envisioned that this technology will bring a new level of detail to dental X-rays. The image on the right demonstrates the difference in results between conventional and Scint-X X-ray technology.
"Our scintillator uses a specially structured silicon substrate and with this unique and patented manufacturing technique we can obtain substantially higher resolution than what is on the market today," explains Per Wiklund of Scint-X.
Another advantage is that the X-ray unit inserted into the patient’s mouth is much thinner than today’s models, making the procedure more comfortable.
Using a scintillator to convert X-rays into visible light is well established, but so far the low resolution has been a limitation.
The breakthrough came when Scint-X produced the scintillator in the new structured silicon and asked Nanospace to build it in their high-precision ‘micro-electro-mechanical system’ (MEMS) facility.