Duke University engineers have developed a prototype X-ray machine that not only shows the shape of objects but also their molecular composition.
According to News i and quoted by FizWith its unparalleled clarity and precision, this device can revolutionize a variety of fields, including cancer surgery, pathology, drug inspection, and geology.
The idea for the device was initially to better detect bombs for aircraft safety. In a new article published in the May 19 issue of Scientific Reports, researchers use the technology for other fields, including medicine and science.
“It doesn’t matter if you are looking for a bomb in a bag or a gland in the body,” says Joel Greenberg, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the Medical Physics Program. Physics is the same for both of them. But from an engineering point of view, they are different. We made this small device with high resolution which is suitable for many different applications.
The technology is a hybrid X-ray system that combines traditional X-ray with X-ray diagnostics.
In the first type, X-rays pass directly through the body, and in the second type, information about the angles and wavelengths emitted from the body is collected and provides a unique effect on the structure of the body.
One of the problems with using this technology is that the X-ray signals are very weak and complex. Thus, a small number of rays reach the detector, which causes long delays in data collection.
To solve this problem, Duke University researchers used a hollow shield that allowed X-rays to move at different angles. A computer can then process large and complex signals. This method allows researchers to collect the right number of deflected rays in a shorter time to detect the substance.
“The security system has different purposes than the oncology lab,” said Anuj Kapadia, an associate professor of radiology at Duke University School of Medical Physics. In the security system, the goal is to examine tens of centimeters of different objects in a fraction of a second, while in our laboratory, the goal was to obtain a high-resolution image of a small sample in a short period of time.
The biggest challenge this device has faced is the accurate detection of cancerous tissues. The researchers, with the help of their colleagues at Duke Health Center, examined tissue samples before sending them to pathologists. The results were not only consistent with the clinical diagnosis, but the device was able to detect tissues inside and around cancerous tissue.
“Our ultimate goal is to have one of these devices in every operating room so that surgeons can examine the site as soon as the cancerous gland is removed and detect the presence of cancer cells,” Capadia said. If part of the cells remain, they can remove it quickly.
The researchers also showed that the device can instantly inspect pharmaceutical products. This not only helps drug manufacturers to be confident in their product, but also helps police and health campaigns to ensure that people do not sell or consume rotten drugs. .
This device also helps to study rocks and is useful for archeological and fossil studies and for miners.
Researchers have received funding from the National Institutes of Health to improve their work to better examine the samples.