More Than Just Medicine
Most people associate flat panel X-ray detectors (FPD) with medicine. These tablet-sized wonders have revolutionized X-ray fluoroscopy. Whether part of a fixed or mobile X-ray unit, FPD technology allows physicians to see real-time, high-definition images of the internal structure and functions of a patient at the push of a button. From the beating of your heart to the mechanics of your breathing, FPD detectors have changed the role of digital radiology in diagnostic, therapeutic, and interventional medicine. They are faster, lighter, and more durable than film. Their higher sensitivity allows a lower dose of radiation with more accuracy and superior image quality even at larger sizes.
What most of us may not realize, however, is that FPD detectors are equally essential in materials science. Because of their portability, reliability, and crystal-clear imagery, FPD detectors are regularly used as part of X-ray systems to check the internal integrity of just about every manufactured high-performance product in existence. From the world’s vast network of gas and oil pipelines to the electronics, automotive, and aerospace industries, FPD detectors are helping to make our world smarter, more efficient, and safer. How?
Just think of all the complex micro-components and high-level technology used in a modern jetliner. The ability to “see” and troubleshoot those components as part of a preventative maintenance program is essential to the airline industry’s never-ending pursuit of safety. Even the slightest slip from 100% performance could lead to countless unsafe flights around the globe every day. 1
That same principle is at work in everything else we manufacture, too. From microelectronics to pipe welds, manufacturers routinely use non-destructive testing procedures to make sure products meet all performance, regulatory, and safety requirements.
Next Generation of X-ray Detectors
Among the handful of global FPD manufacturers, one stands out as a leader in human and environmental health. Over the past 20 years, PerkinElmer has deployed more than 40,000 X-ray detectors as system components for industrial, medical, dental, and veterinary use. Recently, the company unveiled three next-generation FPD detectors for non-destructive industrial testing.
Measuring only 267 × 257 × 51 mm (10 x 10.1 x 2 in), the Dexela® 2315NDT offers large-area (CMOS), non-destructive image sensor technology with a superb field of view (3072 × 1944 pixels). Suitable for real time imaging at up to 86 frames per second, the flat panel unit is for a wide variety of industrial applications ranging from close-up electronics inspection and manufacturing to casting and pipeline inspection.
Based on the next generation platform of PerkinElmer’s Amorphous Silicon (a-Si) technology, a second FPD unit--the XRD™ 4343CT (in development)--supports a full 43 × 43 cm (17 × 17 in) field of view that provides superior imaging for low dose, non-destructive testing and cone beam CT applications and scientific research. In addition to its enhanced image quality, the unit offers rapid system integration for Ethernet or Fiber Optic data communication, and also includes a comprehensive software library for image acquisition and processing.
Also in development is the XRD 3025. Evaluation units of this FPD will be available soon. The device will feature high resolution imaging and will support a wide range of X-ray energies across real-time and static imaging technologies. In addition to industrial NDT, the XRD 3025 will also feature 3D cone beam CT, which is becoming increasingly important in life science and physical science research due to its ability to acquire a significant amount of data rapidly to produce 3D images.
So the next time you settle back in your car, take a flight, turn on your computer, or wonder just how do they may those turbine engines so perfectly uniform, you just might want to thank this new generation of flat panel X-ray detectors. From medical research to countless industrial applications, they are the silent sentries that are focusing a very close “eye” on keeping the world around us safe.
- Geoff Maitland, “When 99.9 Per Cent Just Isn’t Good Enough,” Institution of Chemical Engineers, December 9, 2014.