Flexible x-ray detectors could transform cancer therapy

7th November 2023
Paige West

The University of Surrey has made strides in developing new materials that mirror human tissue, potentially initiating a shift towards the next wave of adaptable x-ray detectors.

These advancements hold promise for applications ranging from enhancing cancer therapy to improving airport security systems.

The standard x-ray detectors, which are typically composed of dense and inflexible materials like silicon or germanium, might soon be superseded by these cost-effective and pliable alternatives. The ability to mould these new detectors around objects could notably refine the precision in patient screenings and mitigate risks during tumour imaging and radiotherapy treatments.

Current market offerings for x-ray detectors are often cumbersome, rigid, and financially taxing, particularly when extensive coverage is necessary.

The research team addressed this by integrating minute amounts of high atomic number elements into an organic semiconductor ink, resulting in devices that more closely emulate human tissue when exposed to X-rays. This development, building upon previous research by the University of Surrey's Advanced Technology Institute, was reported in the journal Advanced Science.

Professor Ravi Silva, the director of the Advanced Technology Institute, remarked: “This innovation holds potential for diverse applications, from radiotherapy to the examination of historical objects, and even in security scanning. The University of Surrey and its affiliate SilverRay Ltd remain at the forefront of flexible X-ray detector technology, and we are optimistic about its varied practical applications.”

Professor Martin Heeney of Imperial College London, a co-author of the study, shared his insights: “Our ongoing work in developing heavy analogues of traditional organic semiconductors led to a curiosity in their use for X-ray detectors. The promising outcomes, especially given this was an initial material explored, suggest substantial room for further enhancements.”

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