Now Yi and his colleagues have gone a step further, using the moth eye as a model for a new class of materials that improve the light-capturing efficiency of X-ray machines and similar medical imaging devices.In particular, the researchers focused on so-called “scintillation” materials: compounds that, when struck by incoming particles (say, X-ray photons), absorb the energy of the particles and then reemit that absorbed energy in the form of light. In radiographic imaging devices, such scintillators are used to convert the X-rays exiting the body into the visible light signals picked up by a detector to form an image.
In lab experiments, Yi and colleagues found that adding the thin film to the scintillator of an X-ray mammographic unit increased the intensity of the emitted light by as much as 175 percent compared to that produced using a traditional scintillator.The current work, Yi says, represents a proof-of-concept evaluation of the use of the moth-eye-based nanostructures in medical imaging materials. “The moth eye has been considered one of the most exciting bio structures because of its unique nano-optical properties,” he says, “and our work further improved upon this fascinating structure and demonstrated its use in medical imaging materials, where it promises to achieve lower patient radiation doses, higher-resolution imaging of human organs, and even smaller-scale medical imaging. And because the film is on the scintillator,” he adds, “the patient would not be aware of it at all.”
The work was done in collaboration with Professors Bo Liu and Hong Chen of Tongji University in Shanghai.
Angela Stark | EurekAlert!
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