X-rays without film. Fewer X-rays taken. Less radiation exposure. Real-time digital images that can be stored electronically or sent anywhere in the world via telecommunications systems. Such will be the change in X-ray technology with the large-scale, amorphous-silicon X-ray detectors developed by GE Medical Systems (Milwaukee, WI). Conventional X-ray film and chemicals are replaced with computer images and a large-format X-ray detector. Measuring up to 41 @ 41 cm in the active area, GE says these are the largest panels available anywhere. The immense format and high pixel density eliminate the need for optical image reduction. Each pixel delivers up to 16 bits of dynamic-range (contrast) information. Officials at GE predict this will revolutionize the way X-ray images are acquired, analyzed and shared. The manufacture of the detector starts with a pizza-box-size, glass-panel substrate. Photolithographic techniques create photodiodes by applying and patterning successive thin-film layers of silicon, metals, and insulators. A final layer of scintillator material, which converts X-ray photons to visible light, is applied over the array. EG&G (Santa Clara, CA) will have exclusive rights to manufacture the panels, available for medical applications by late 1998 or early 1999. Phone (408) 565-0850.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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