Thanks to CERN, your next X-ray scan could be in full color

Leslie Hanson
July 15, 2018

The new device, based on the traditional black-and-white Xray, incorporates particle-tracking technology developed for CERN's Large Hadron Collider, which in 2012 discovered the elusive Higgs Boson particle.

An innovative device capable of making three dimensional color images of high resolution and high accuracy drawing details. Functional imaging simultaneously identifies and quantifies various components of soft tissues, bones, cartilage as well as exogenously administered contrast agents, nanoparticles and pharmaceuticals in a single scan.

"The image of this new image can not be obtained with other image tools due to the small pixels and specific energy resolution of the machine", said Phill Butler, a student of University of Canterbury. This new technology provides an accurate picture of the x-ray site that will allow for more accurate diagnosis of medical conditions.


Professor Phil Butler, the father of Anthony, was the first person to be scanned.

Medipix is a family of read-out chips for particle imaging and detection. The concept behind the chip is that it works like a camera in that it detects and counts every individual particle that hits the pixels when the electronic shutter is opened. The technology is being commercialised by the New Zealand company, MARS Bioimaging, linked to the universities of Otago and Canterbury, also in New Zealand, which helped develop it. Picture shows a 3D image of a left view of an ankle. The Medipix3 chip is now the most advanced chip available. "In all of these studies, promising early results suggest that when spectral imaging is routinely used in clinics it will enable more accurate diagnosis and personalisation of treatment", Professor Anthony Butler says. When an X-ray beam passes through a body, its photons are absorbed at different amounts depending on the density of material such as bones. In the case of the 3D scanner, a license agreement has been established between CERN, on behalf of Medipix3 collaboration and MARS Bioimaging Ltd.

While it is not available in hospitals or doctors' offices quite yet, a small version of the scanner is already being used in studies covering cancer, vascular diseases, bone and joint health, heart attacks, and strokes.

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