by Nancy Ryerson
, Staff Writer | August 06, 2013
If you want your scanner to work like a race car, a common auto lubricant may be the answer. Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have discovered that an engine lubricant called molybdenum disulfide, or MoS2, can make medical scans 10 times faster. On top of that, it's inexpensive.
Most photodetectors in imaging devices use amorphous silicon because it absorbs light well. But because its structure prevents the fast, ordered movement of electrons, it's not the fastest option for operating speeds.
The UC Berkeley researchers combined silicon with MoS2. The molecular structure of MoS2 allows the photo-generated electrons it collects to move through quickly, boosting the scanner's speed.
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"Like a book, MoS2 is made of individual sheets. You can tear off a single sheet or a bunch of them and make very thin and thus flexible electronic devices," postdoctoral scholar Mohammad Esmaeili-Rad told DOTmed News. "This is challenging with conventional semiconductors like silicon. In addition, MoS2 can be easily paired with other materials to make novel devices and/or enhance their functionality."
Currently, flat-panel X-ray imagers operate at frame rates of around 10 to 100 frames per second. With the new detector, they could operate at a speed of several thousand frames per second, Esmaeili-Rad said.
Its thinness and malleability also make it cheap and easy to use, which the researchers say will give scanners a boost without adding to their already high operating costs.
Esmaeili-Rad and his research team published their findings on Aug. 2 in the journal Scientific Reports. Next, Esmaeili-Rad, along with other research groups, will work to develop manufacturing methods to obtain quality MoS2 on large-area substrates.