Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Teeny-tiny X-ray Vision

Date:
July 31, 2009
Source:
American Institute of Physics
Summary:
The tubes that power X-ray machines are shrinking, improving the clarity and detail of their Superman-like vision. A team of nanomaterial scientists, medical physicists, and cancer biologists has developed new lower-cost X-ray tubes packed with sharp-tipped carbon nanotubes for cancer research and treatment.

The tubes that power X-ray machines are shrinking, improving the clarity and detail of their Superman-like vision. A team of nanomaterial scientists, medical physicists, and cancer biologists at the University of North Carolina has developed new lower-cost X-ray tubes packed with sharp-tipped carbon nanotubes for cancer research and treatment.

The tiny technology, presented at this year's meeting of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine in Anaheim, California, is being developed to image human breast tissue, laboratory animals, and cancer patients under radiotherapy treatment, and to irradiate cells with more control than previously possible with conventional X-ray tubes.

The X-ray machine used in a typical hospital today is powered by a "hot" vacuum tube that dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. Inside the tube, a tungsten metal filament -- similar to the one that creates light in an incandescent bulb -- is heated to a temperature of 1,000 degrees Celsius. The heat releases electrons, which accelerate in the X-ray tube and strike a piece of metal, the anode, creating X-rays.

Sha Chang, Otto Zhou, and colleagues that University of North Carolina have developed cold X-ray tubes that replace the tungsten filament with carbon nanotubes packed like blades of tiny grass. Electrons are instantly emitted from the sharp tips of the nanotubes when a voltage is applied. "Think of each nanotube as a lightning rod on top of a building. The high electric field at the tip of the lightning rod draws the electric current from the cloud. Carbon nanotubes emit electrons using a similar principle," said Chang.

The group used the nanotubes to build micro-sized scanners and image the interior anatomy of small laboratory animals. Existing X-ray technologies have difficulty compensating for the blur caused by the creature's breathing. Slow mechanical shutters that open and close to block and release the radiation are used to time X-ray pulses to correspond with breath, but their speed is inadequate for small animals because of the creatures' extremely fast breathing and cardiac motion. Chang and Zhou have demonstrated that their carbon nanotubes, which can be turned on and off instantaneously, are fairly easy to synch up to equipment that monitors small animal's breathing or heart rate.

The nanotube devices may also improve human cancer imaging and treatment. CT scanners currently in use check for breast cancer by swinging a single large X-ray source around the target to take a thousand pictures over the course of minutes. Using many nanotube X-ray sources lined up in an array instead, breast imaging can be done within few seconds by electronically turning on and off each of the X-ray sources without any physical motion. This fast "tomosynthesis" imaging improves patient comfort and boosts image quality by reducing motion blur. Using 25 simultaneous beams, the team produced images of growths in breast tissue at nearly twice the resolution of commercial scanners on the market.

This summer Chang's team will conduct a clinical test of a first generation nanotube-based imaging system for high-speed image-guided radiotherapy. The research image system is developed by Siemens and Xinray Inc., a joint venture between Siemens and a University of North Carolina startup company Xintech Inc.

The talk "Carbon Nanotube Field Emission Based Imaging and Irradiation Technology Development for Basic Cancer Research" was given on July 28.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Institute of Physics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Institute of Physics. "Teeny-tiny X-ray Vision." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090728145214.htm>.
American Institute of Physics. (2009, July 31). Teeny-tiny X-ray Vision. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090728145214.htm
American Institute of Physics. "Teeny-tiny X-ray Vision." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090728145214.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Will Living Glue Be A Thing?

Will Living Glue Be A Thing?

Newsy (Sep. 23, 2014) Using proteins derived from mussels, engineers at MIT have made a supersticky underwater adhesive. They're now looking to make "living glue." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Company Copies Keys From Photos

Company Copies Keys From Photos

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) A new company allows customers to make copies of keys by simply uploading a couple of photos. But could it also be great for thieves? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Hyped-Up Big Bang Discovery Has A Dust Problem

The Hyped-Up Big Bang Discovery Has A Dust Problem

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) An analysis of new satellite data casts serious doubt on a previous study about the Big Bang that was once hailed as revolutionary. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rockefeller Oil Heirs Switching To Clean Energy

Rockefeller Oil Heirs Switching To Clean Energy

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) The Rockefellers — heirs to an oil fortune that made the family name a symbol of American wealth — are switching from fossil fuels to clean energy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins