An engineer at the University of Sheffield is leading a £4.5m project that could revolutionise the way scientists, medics and others see the world – by allowing the earlier detection of cancer, the instant analysis of medical screening tests, and permitting the emergency and security services to work effectively in murky surroundings. It will also open up broad tracts of science to unique high-quality imaging by enabling physicists to understand better the most fundamental interactions of matter, by providing better pictures from space, and probing in unprecedented detail the dynamics inside living cells.
The MI-3 project is focussing on developing and exploiting a new generation of programmable chips that will produce images that can be transformed even before they leave the camera. Active Pixel Sensors exploit the capabilities of Complimentary Metal Oxide Semi-Conductor (CMOS) Chips by allowing intelligent imaging that can focus right down to individual pixels. This project will also allow experts to view non-visible light, such as high-energy particles and x-rays and beyond to the ultra-violet spectrum and into the infra-red. The MI-3 project is part of the UK Research Councils Basic Technology Initiative and is a multi-disciplinary research group.
Professor Nigel Allinson from the University of Sheffield is leading this study. He explains, “The imaging technology in products like digital cameras and camcorders are called Charged Coupled Devices (CCD). They are great for what they do, but they are expensive and slow. Disposal applications, such as medical screening, need inexpensive technology. Also with CCDs you can only control the quality of an image by varying the exposure time and the aperture - much as you do with a normal film camera. With APS devices, the device itself can control read-out and each individual part of the image is treated. For example, you can choose to look only at a specific part of an image in detail, rather than exposing the whole picture and then trying to zoom in to an interesting region.
Lorna Branton | alfa
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