Thursday, 20 Jun 2019

Holst Centre, imec and Philips demo world’s first curved, plastic photodetector

By enabling smaller, lighter 3D X-ray imaging systems, curved plastic X-ray detectors make the technology more readily applicable in a wider range of settings

Holst Centre | imec | Philips - Prototype of a curved photodetector on a plastic substrate

17 Oct 2017 | Editor

Researchers from the Holst Centre, imec and Royal Philips have announced they have produced the first ever prototype of a curved photodetector on a plastic substrate. T

The researchers said the breakthrough paves the way for smaller optical and 3D imaging X-ray systems with better, more uniform image quality.

A prototype curved X-ray detector has been integrated into a medical cone-beam CT (CBCT) demonstrator that will be presented at the IEEE Nuclear Science Symposium and Medical Imaging Conference in Atlanta, Georgia on October 22.

Using processes originally developed by Holst Centre researchers and partners, the team created a curved X-ray detector that could allow the volume of 3D X-ray imaging systems to shrink by as much as 50%. The curved prototype delivered the same X-ray imaging performance as the flat, flexible X-ray detectors the team has previously demonstrated, including an extremely low dark current.

As a proof-of-concept, the curved X-ray detector was integrated into a demonstration CBCT X-ray system. CBCT is a technology that creates three-dimensional views of objects based on a series of two-dimensional X-ray images. The curved detector's more uniform image quality combined with enhanced reconstruction algorithms allowed the proof-of-concept system to deliver better 3D views than previous solutions.

According to the researchers curved surfaces are the most natural shape for photodetectors – just think of the human eyeball. Nevertheless, today’s photo-imager arrays are flat. Flat optical detectors suffer from a phenomenon called vignetting, where image quality at the edge of the detector is less than at the center due to the angle at which the photons hit the outer pixels. The effect can be corrected with a series of optical lenses, but that results in a bulky system. Curved detectors eliminate vignetting naturally.

Previous curved photodetector prototypes have been made by thinning and then bending the glass or silicon substrate. But this results in cumbersome and very fragile systems. By building the detector directly on a thin plastic substrate using solution-processing techniques, the Holst Centre-imec-Philips team achieved a much lighter, less breakable and highly mechanically flexible solution.

Today's 3D X-ray imaging systems are typically very large as they have a 2D detector mounted on a gantry that rotates around the subject being examined to capture the data required for a 3D image reconstruction. Here, curving the detector would mean its edges describe a smaller circle as the gantry rotates, so the whole system could be more compact.

"Our solution-processing on plastic technology opens many new opportunities in photodetection. Earlier this year, we created the first semitransparent detectors. Now with curved detectors, we have shown the technology can bring benefits for 3D X-ray imaging. This could be relevant for medical imaging and diagnostics as well as the industrial inspection of pipes, for example, in the oil and gas industry."

Gerwin Gelinck, Program Director at Holst Centre

"By enabling smaller, lighter 3D X-ray imaging systems, curved plastic X-ray detectors make the technology more readily applicable in a wider range of settings. Although still only at the prototype stage, they also have potential to enhance mobility, improve stability, reduce heat generation (thereby improving energy efficiency) and reduce costs for such systems."

Richard Kemkers, Innovation Program manager at Philips Research

www.holstcentre.com    www.imec.be    www.philips.com   

About imec

Imec is the world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. The combination of our widely acclaimed leadership in microchip technology and profound software and ICT expertise is what makes us unique. By leveraging our world-class infrastructure and local and global ecosystem of partners across a multitude of industries, we create groundbreaking innovation in application domains such as healthcare, smart cities and mobility, logistics and manufacturing, energy and education.

As a trusted partner for companies, start-ups and universities we bring together close to 3,500 brilliant minds from over 70 nationalities. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium and has distributed R&D groups at a number of Flemish universities, in the Netherlands, Taiwan, USA, China, and offices in India and Japan. In 2016, imec's revenue (P&L) totaled 496 million euro.

Source: imec

About Holst Centre

Holst Centre is an independent R&D center that develops technologies for wireless autonomous sensor technologies and flexible electronics, in an open innovation setting and in dedicated research trajectories. A key feature of Holst Centre is its partnership model with industry and academia based around roadmaps and programs. It is this kind of cross-fertilization that enables Holst Centre to tune its scientific strategy to industrial needs.

Holst Centre's fundamentals are to contribute to answering global societal challenges in healthcare, lifestyle, sustainability and the Internet of Things. This is visible through the motivation of its researchers, its different collaboration models and the choice of its research topics.

Holst Centre was set up in 2005 by imec (Flanders, Belgium) and TNO (The Netherlands) and is supported by local, regional and national governments. Located on High Tech Campus Eindhoven, Holst Centre benefits from, and contributes to, the state-of-the-art on-site facilities. Holst Centre has over 200 employees from some 28 nations and a commitment from more than 50 industrial partners.

Source: Holst Centre

About Philips

Philips is a health technology company focused on improving people’s lives through meaningful innovation across the health continuum – from healthy living and prevention to diagnosis, treatment and home care. Applying advanced technologies and deep clinical and consumer insights, Philips partners with customers to deliver integrated solutions that enable better outcomes at lower cost.

Source: Philips

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