Digital x-ray systems offer a number of advantages over conventional analog systems—images are processed faster and can be shared easily, and less radiation is required to produce them—but they also share one disadvantage: digital x-rays still use large glass substrates. Two years ago, researchers at the Holst Centre (Eindhoven, Netherlands) and imec (Leuven, Belgium) demonstrated that the use of plastic substrates in x-ray systems was technically feasible and would result in lighter, more robust, and less expensive devices. Now, the institutes have taken the research a step further and shown that plastic-based x-ray detectors can achieve medical-grade performance requirements.
The proof-of-concept device produces high-resolution images at 25 frames per second and 200 pixels per inch using medical-level x-ray doses, reports imec. By reducing the photodiode leakage current—the photodiode output at zero light—by a factor of 10,000, the researchers have brought the system well within medical parameters. The signal-to-noise ratio is improved as is image quality at low radiation doses, says imec.