X-ray imaging is a cornerstone of modern medicine, but it comes with substantial risk for patients and healthcare providers. CT scanners, fluoroscopes, and mammography machines have to produce a great deal of ionizing radiation because existing silicon-based detectors aren’t very efficient at capturing incoming X-rays. Most of the radiation passes through existing detectors. Now, researchers at Los Alamos and Argonne National Laboratories have developed an X-ray detector based on perovskite, a calcium titanium oxide mineral, that is orders of magnitude more sensitive than conventional silicon detectors.
More sensitive detectors will allow X-ray-based imaging systems to reduce the radiation dose that they deliver and improve their image fidelity.
“The perovskite material at the heart of our detector prototype can be produced with low-cost fabrication techniques,” said Hsinhan (Dave) Tsai, a postdoctoral fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory, in a press release. “The result is a cost-effective, highly sensitive, and self-powered detector that could radically improve existing X-ray detectors, and potentially lead to a host of unforeseen applications.”
The new detector is about 100 times more sensitive than silicon devices and it doesn’t need a power source, as it uses the incoming X-ray energy to generate the output electric signal. Another advantage of the new detector is that its core, the perovskite thin film, can be sprayed onto surfaces, unlike silicon devices that need metal deposition and high-temperature to be created.
“Potentially, we could use ink-jet types of systems to print large scale detectors,” added Tsai. “This would allow us to replace half-million-dollar silicon detector arrays with inexpensive, higher-resolution perovskite alternatives.”
Here’s a Los Alamos video about the new detector:
Open access study in Science Advances: A sensitive and robust thin-film x-ray detector using 2D layered perovskite diodes