Advancements in X-Ray Technology

Published: 10th March 2008
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X-Rays have been in use as a medical imaging technique since 1895 when Wilhelm Roentgen discovered that he could create pictures of body structures like tissues and bones by passing electromagnetic waves through the body. He called the phenomenon "X" because he did not completely understand what made up the "rays". Since that time, X-Rays have been the foundation upon which medical imaging technology and equipment for medical imaging have been made.

Although the X-Ray has long been a fundamental tool for medical imaging, this approach has always had the drawback that the pictures produced are indistinct. The images require extremely careful analysis and interpretation. Scientists have been researching for years in an attempt to find a way to make the radiographic images better.

Recent findings in the development of laser X-Ray's have led to advancements that have the capability to completely change the quality of radiographic images. The light distributed by a laser would be bright enough to create strong, distinct contrasts on radiographic images. Also, grouping the power of a laser beam with X-Rays could improve resolution by a multiple of around 1,000. Medical imaging that could make the picture that much better might give us the resources to find abnormalities and cancers that you can not detect right now with our technology.

Up until recently, the power source needed to generate the appropriate strength laser beam for this invention was so massive that it was impractical to even try. Nevertheless, due to new technology, researchers at the University of Colorado in Boulder have created a method to generate strong laser beams from a "table top" size source of power. This makes laser X-Ray technology a practical goal.

The team that is researching this used a laser beam to send out atoms from argon. Argon is a stable chemical element. The radiation of X-Rays was too weak to be useful. The research group then hurled the atoms right back at the argon which made a bigger, more smooth ray of X-Rays of big enough size to be of use. This "boomerang" method is now being fingered to generate a highly regular, very strong source of X-Rays, grouped with laser beams.

The method isn't prepared for use in the clinical setting. More research is necessary to expand the method into the hard X-Ray region of the electromagnetic spectrum. When the task at hand has been overcome, the commercial laser X-Ray will follow.

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Jesse Fisher loves writing articles for his clients including Transamerican Medical, a company that resells Philips Medical equipment and parts. See also Medical Imaging News.

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