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Amorphous Silicon Array for Medical Imaging


E.O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

TITLE: Amorphous Silicon Array for Medical Imaging

APPLICATION OF TECHNOLOGY: In medical imaging, this device can provide for real-time electronic imaging in digital radiography (x-rays) and serve as a detector in computerized tomography (CAT scans). One application in medical radiation therapy is related to cancer treatment. Sophisticated techniques exist to pinpoint a tumor and to calculate how to treat it by gamma ray beams: having an imaging device which constantly monitors the beam and projects it on a screen is much superior to current "snapshot" recordings on a series of still x-ray films.

Other applications include:



Amorphous (non-crystalline) silicon is currently used for solar cells and fax heads. Victor Perez-Mendez and Selig Kaplan at Berkeley National Laboratory are developing a new technology for charged particle and x-ray detection using amorphous silicon. It can be used in a series of products, including medical imaging.

The technology is based on two-dimensional arrays made from amorphous silicon that contains hydrogen. These arrays, which can be fabricated with an area of up to 12 square inches, provide about one million sensors. When a thin phosphor sheet is deposited on the silicon array, the x-rays are converted into visible light. This light is detected by the array. It is then read out in real time as a digital electronic image using thin film transistors made of the same amorphous silicon material. The image is then manipulated, depending on the application, transferred, and stored electronically.

STATUS: U.S. Patents #4,785,186, #5,164,809, #5,117,114. Available for licensing


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