London: Researchers have said that the new generation of flexible X-ray detectors developed using new materials could revolutionise cancer treatment and can be used for other purposes, such as airport scanners.
Traditionally, X-ray detectors are made of heavy, rigid materials such as silicon or germanium.
The new flexible X-ray detectors are cheaper and can be shaped around the objects that need to be scanned, improving accuracy when screening patients and reducing risk when imaging tumours and administering radiotherapy, the study published in the journal Advanced Science said.
“This new material is flexible, low-cost, and sensitive. But what’s exciting is that this material is tissue equivalent. This paves the way for live dosimetry, which just isn’t possible with current technology,” said Dr Prabodhi Nanayakkara, who led the research at the UK-based University of Surrey.
According to the researchers, substances built up of hydrogen and carbon, known as organic semiconductors, offer a more flexible solution, but until now, did not allow as detailed an X-ray image to be produced as traditional detectors.
To solve this challenge, scientists created devices based on an ink by adding low quantities of high atomic number elements to an organic semiconductor.
“This new technology could be used in a variety of settings, such as radiotherapy, scanning historical artefacts and in security scanners,” Professor Ravi Silva, director of Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute, said.
The new detector behaves more like human tissue under X-rays, which could lead to new, safer techniques for administering radiotherapy, mammography and radiography, the researchers said.