Inherently Flexible X-Ray Imaging Detector using Single Photon Avalanche Photodiodes and Scintillating Fibres Co-funded by EU Horizon 2020 (Grant 899634) FleX-Ray Projectsite Duration: September 2020 – September 2023
X-ray imaging is a key component of applications ranging from medicine and food to security and industrial non-destructive testing (NDT). Current approaches to X-ray detection however are limited with respect to shape flexibility and material cost. Inherent inflexibility of the digital electronics and scintillating materials used both in charge integrating and particle counting detectors leads to inaccurate imaging of complex geometries. This is particularly problematic in industrial NDT where defects in complex shapes are easy to miss and in medical applications, where early detection of abnormalities can make the difference between life and death. In medical applications, the inability to resolve complex features within the human body with planar sensors is compensated by higher radiation dosage, thereby increasing health risks. Moreover, current architectures require the hardware and electronic systems to be placed across the beam path. Thus, they need to be radiation-hardened sacrificing pixel density, greatly increasing the cost of manufacturing, limiting shelf life, and making maintenance practically impossible. FleX-RAY completely redefines X-ray detectors by introducing an utterly novel design where the hardware and electronics for detection are placed outside of the beam path, greatly reducing material and manufacturing costs. Our architecture achieves unprecedented versatility as multiple grids of scintillating fibres can be stacked to enable finer resolutions as well as particle tracking capabilities. With technology from the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute, the flexible detector shape can also be monitored in real-time by using (fibre) Bragg gratings, which further improve the resolution while reducing the radiation dosage. Our project brings together cross-disciplinary Europe-wide expertise in materials, fibre optics, analogue and digital electronics, and particle physics to produce the world’s first ultra-flexible, low-cost, self-shape reporting X-ray detector that will enable 10× higher resolution at half the price of current approaches.