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.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.