A breakthrough between MIT and Singapore Institute of Manufacturing researchers may pave the way for handheld X-ray devices.
The team used graphene to replace the traditional bulky X-ray tubes you find in doctor’s offices, which scatter the high-frequency electromagnetic waves in all directions. This approach can be inefficient and sometimes raises radiation safety concerns.
“Spectroscopynow.com reports graphene, in this research, is used to ‘support plasmons, collections of electronic oscillations that can be used to confine and manipulate electromagnetic radiation on the ten-nanometre scale.’”
Because of the 1-atom thick nature of pure graphene, the new technology could lead to light-weight, mobile X-ray sources.
“Spectroscopynow.com says: ‘X-ray tube sources ‘cannot be tuned for particular applications where a very specific frequency might benefit a particular analysis. Currently, different devices are needed for each frequency that a radiographer or researcher will need.’ Graphene assisted X-ray machines, on the other hand ‘could be built as a bench-top or even handheld device for a wide range of applications.’”
A tuneable, pointable X-ray source would reduce costs and be useful in targeting cancerous tumors without damaging surrounding healthy tissue.
“As quoted in Spectorscopynow.com, SIMTech’s Liang Jie Wong explains: ‘Although there is a long way to go to actual realization, this is a very exciting research direction. Developing an intense X-ray source that can fit on a table or be held in one’s hand would potentially revolutionize many areas of science and technology.’”