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iPad mini-sized X-ray prototype developed

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | January 10, 2013

The device could also be used as a radiation source for oil well drilling that would do without the need for radioisotopes.

"It's this mechanism for producing energetic charged particles that just hasn't been explored at all, so we're really just having a fun time hunting and pecking in the dark on this thing, trying to figure out what we can do with it," he said.

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In its current form, however, the device likely won't produce enough energy for the high-resolution imaging required in medicine, but it's stackable. You can add several devices together to reach the throughput you need, while still remaining far smaller or more compact than most X-ray units. "If you need additional current, add more devices to get additional current," Kovaleski said.

Kovaleski said his team hasn't looked into commercialization prospects, but they expect they could have a finished device ready in about three years. As for cost, he said the crystals themselves are the most expensive part of the system, and they only run a couple of hundred dollars each.

"The rest of the device is fairly common off-the-shelf electronics on a circuit board, and so there are great efficiencies there if you're mass producing," he said. "The expense could be fairly low."

Kovaleski's study, "Investigation of the Piezoelectric Effect as a Means to Generate X-Rays," was published this month in IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science.

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