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New crystal is four times more sensitive to X-rays (Image 2)

These crystals can detect an X-ray dose 11 times lower than required for many medical applications


Synthesized from a compound called methylammonium lead tribromide, these crystals can detect an X-ray dose 11 times lower than that required for many medical applications. Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are looking at this material as a candidate for limiting X-ray exposure.

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A study led by University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) engineer Jinsong Huang revealed a crystalline material that is four times more sensitive to X-rays than leading commercial detectors. Known as methylammonium lead tribromide, the material can detect an X-ray dose about 11 times lower than that required for many medical applications.

X-rays are used for everything from diagnosing bone fractures to revealing tumors in tissue to helping keep the country safe from terrorism. But the radiation in X-rays can also damage tissue and increase the lifetime risk of developing cancer, particularly in those exposed at a young age, according to the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. Huang and colleagues are exploring methylammonium lead tribromide--a material belonging to a family of compounds known as perovskites--as a candidate for limiting this exposure. Huang has studied the material since 2013 in an effort to improve the performance of solar cells and photodetectors.

"If you look at the history of X-ray detectors, the materials used for them are usually also good for photovoltaic devices," said Huang, a Susan J. Rosowski associate professor of mechanical and materials engineering. "This material is almost perfect for X-ray applications."

The study by Huang, which was published in Nature Photonics, reports that properties of the material could make methylammonium lead tribromide a substantial upgrade over amorphous selenium, a material that Huang calls a "workhorse" of the X-ray detector industry.

The research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation (grant CBET 14-37656).

To learn more about this research, see the UNL news story New crystal is four times more sensitive to X-rays. (Date image taken: March 2016; date originally posted to NSF Multimedia Gallery: Nov. 15, 2016) [Image 2 of 4 related images. See Image 3.]

Credit: Craig Chandler/University Communications, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
 
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