The XCOL project provides a breakthrough in X-ray digital imaging by making high resolution, colour X-ray imaging available at an affordable cost. We use innovative design techniques, optimised for X-ray detection, to boost the performance of CMOS image sensors so that they can deliver the longsought step-change in the image quality of large area flat panel array.
CMOS is the technology which fostered the microelectronics revolution and is today found in most consumer electronics. With its design, the XCOL team will harness the potential of CMOS to create a sensor that, coupled to an inexpensive scintillator or phosphor screen, will be capable of working at high speed, thus making single photon counting possible with an affordable, large area detector. The energy of these individually detected photons can be measured and a dramatic improvement in the quality of X-ray images will be achieved.
In planar (2D) imaging, contrast of details will be significantly enhanced, by eliminating unwanted background signal, like “structural noise”, one of the key limitations of 2D imaging as opposed to 3D approaches, and material discrimination will be provided alongside some degree of material identification. The XCOL CMOS image sensor will give very significant advantages also in 3D (Computer Tomography CT and micro CT) imaging, as datasets can be made entirely quantitative, eliminating “beam hardening” artefacts and allowing for more effective scatter reduction strategies.
The impact of the XCOL technology over the societal challenges of our times cannot be overstated. The quality of medical diagnostic will be vastly improved, boosting health and wellbeing of men and women across the planet. X-ray screening of goods and luggage will make transport safer and enhance our society security overall, by providing protection against terror threats. The food industry will be able to detect and identify even minute traces of contaminant in the production chain, e.g. plastic in chocolate bars, bone fragments in chicken and glass particles in glass jars of puréed baby food. Wherever X-ray imaging is used in industry, for example in semiconductor industry, great benefits will be given by the XCOL colour imaging capability. Science at light sources or in astronomy will also greatly benefit from the XCOL innovation.
The XCOL team is composed by IMASENIC S.L., a Spanish based SME, which has already developed innovative designs for large area sensors, for X-ray medical imaging and transmission electron microscopy, and the medical physics group at University College London UCL, a world-leading institution in medical imaging.