<p>Recent advances in thin film transistor array technology have enabled the possibility of “back-irradiated” (BI) indirect active-matrix flat-panel imagers (AMFPIs), in which x-rays first expose the scintillator through the optical sensor, and “dual-screen” AMFPIs, in which two scintillating screens are sandwiched around a bidirectional active matrix. We developed a theoretical treatment of such detectors. The theory is used to investigate possible imaging performance improvements over conventional “front-irradiation” (FI) AMFPIs, where the active matrix is opposite the x-ray entrance surface. Simple expressions for the modulation transfer function, normalized noise power spectrum, Swank factor (<italic>A</italic><sub>s</sub>), Lubberts function <italic>L</italic> ( <italic>f</italic> ) , and spatial frequency-dependent detective quantum efficiency DQE ( <italic>f</italic> ) are derived and used to compute these quantities for a variety of FI, BI, and dual-screen detector configurations. DQE ( <italic>f</italic> ) is used as the figure of merit for optimizing and comparing the performance of the various configurations. Large performance improvements over FI single-screen systems are found possible with BI. Further improvements are found possible with dual-screen configurations. The ratio of the thicknesses of the two screens that optimizes DQE is generally asymmetric, with the thinner screen facing the incident flux. The optimum ratio depends on the x-ray attenuation length in the screen.</p>
The x-ray imaging performance of an indirect flat panel detector (I-FPD) is intrinsically limited by its scintillator. Random fluctuations in the conversion gain and spatial blur of scintillators (per detected x-ray) degrade the detective quantum efficiency (DQE) of I-FPDs. These variations are often attributed to depth-dependence in light escape efficiency and spatial spread before detection. Past investigations have used theoretical models to explore how scintillator depth effects degrade DQE(f), however such models have not been validated by direct measurements. Recently, experimental methods have been developed to localize the depth of x-ray interactions in a scintillator, and image the light burst from each interaction using an ultra-high-sensitivity optical camera. This approach, referred to as depth-localized single x-ray imaging (SXI), has enabled direct measurements of both depth-dependent and fixed-depth variations in scintillator gain and spatial resolution. SXI has been used recently to measure depth-dependence in the average gain and modulation transfer function (MTF) of columnar CsI:Tl, which is the scintillator-of-choice for medical I-FPDs. When used in a depth-dependent cascaded linear system model, these SXI measurements accurately predict the presampling MTF(f) of CsI:Tl-based I-FPDs as measured using the slanted-edge method. However, such calculations underestimate the CsI:Tl noise power spectrum (NPS), and thereby overestimate its DQE when compared to conventional measurements. We hypothesize that some of this discrepancy is caused by fixed-depth variations in CsI:Tl spatial resolution, which are not considered in current models. This work characterizes these variations directly using depth-localized SXI and examines their impact on scintillator DQE(f).
The x-ray imaging performance of an indirect flat panel detector (I-FPD) is degraded by random variations in its scintillator’s conversion gain. At energies below the K-edge, these variations are caused by depth-dependence in light collection from within the scintillator, and intrinsic fluctuations in the number of optical photons (<i>N<sub>ph</sub></i>) emitted per absorbed x-ray. At fixed energy, the former effect can be quantified by the average depth-dependent gain <i>N<sub>ph</sub></i> (𝑧). The latter effect can be evaluated using a Fano factor <i>F<sub>N</sub>, </i>defined as the variance in <i>N<sub>ph</sub></i> divided by its mean at fixed interaction depth. Neither phenomenon has been directly measured in non-transparent scintillators used in medical I-FPDs, namely columnar CsI:Tl. This work presents experimental measurements of <i>N<sub>ph</sub></i>(𝑧) and <i>F<sub>N</sub></i> in a columnar CsI:Tl scintillator with 1000 μm thickness. X-ray interactions were localized to fixed depths (±10 μm, 100 μm intervals) in the scintillator using a microslit beam of parallel synchrotron radiation (32 keV). Light bursts from single interactions at each depth were imaged using an II-EMCCD optical camera, and their magnitude was characterized by 2D summation of their image pixel values. The II-EMCCD camera was calibrated to convert summed pixel values to numbers of optical photons detected per event. The number distributions of photons collected per event were represented in histograms as “depth-localized pulse height spectra” (DLPHS), from which<i>𝑁̅<sub>ph </sub></i>(𝑧) and <i>F<sub>N</sub> </i>were derived. The II-EMCCD’s noise contribution to these measurements was estimated and removed from <i>F<sub>N</sub>. </i>Depth-dependent and intrinsic variations in the gain of columnar CsI:Tl are compared.
Direct and indirect active matrix flat-panel imagers (AMFPI) have become the dominant technology in digital radiography and fluoroscopy, and further improvements in imaging performance are being sought through novel detector designs. Two novel multilayer x-ray detectors are proposed to improve the DQEs of existing AMFPI in R/F and CBCT applications that require high DQE and wide dynamic range. Both detectors utilize a back-irradiation (BI) geometry, and incorporate both a-Se and scintillators in their designs. The first design, the Hybrid-AMFPI is a composite direct/indirect detector that aims to improve the quantum efficiency of a-Se (with a maximum thickness of 1 mm due to carrier trapping) by adding a scintillator. The second design, the BI-SHARP-AMFPI (Back-Irradiated Scintillator HARPAMFPI), uses a High Gain Avalanche Rushing Photoconductor (HARP) a-Se layer to detect and amplify optical photons from an x-ray scintillator. This work uses the Fujita-Lubberts-Swank (FLS) Monte Carlo (MC) framework proposed by Star-Lack et al. to investigate the potential improvements in imaging performance of these detectors and the optimal detector configuration. Simulations were carried out at RQA5 and RQA9 standard beam qualities. Both front-irradiation (FI) and BI geometries were evaluated to demonstrate the advantage of BI. Our simulations confirm that the DQE of the Hybrid AMFPI is substantially improved at low spatial frequencies compared to an otherwise identical direct AMFPI. Additionally, the role of gain matching of direct and indirect signal (a consideration unique to multilayer AMFPI) is investigated in the imaging performance of both the Hybrid and BI-SHARP-AMFPI.
Motivated by recent advances in TFT array technology for display, this study develops a theoretical treatment of dual granular scintillating screens sandwiched around a light detector and applies this to investigate possible improvements in imaging performance of indirect active-matrix flat-panel imagers (AMFPI’s) for x-ray applications, when dual intensifying screen configurations are used. Theoretical methods, based on previous studies of granular intensifying screens, are developed and applied to calculate modulation transfer function (MTF), normalized noise power spectrum (NNPS), Swank factor (As), Lubberts function L(f), and spatial frequency-dependent detective quantum efficiency (DQE(f)) for a variety of detector configurations in which a pair of screens are sandwiched around a light sensing array. Single-screen front illuminated (FI) and back illuminated (BI) configurations are also included in the analysis. DQE(f) is used as a performance metric to optimize and compare the performance of the various configurations. Large improvements in performance in MTF and DQE(f) are found possible, when the substrate layer between the light sensing array and the intensifying screen is optically thin. The ratio of the thicknesses of the two screens which optimizes DQE performance is generally asymmetric with the thinner screen facing the incident flux, and the ratio depends on the x-ray attenuation length in the phosphor material.
The imaging performance of an indirect flat panel detector (I-FPD) is fundamentally limited by that of its scintillator. The scintillator’s modulation transfer function (MTF) varies as a function of the depth of x-ray interaction in the layer, due to differences in the lateral spread of light before detection by the optical sensor. This variation degrades the spatial frequency-dependent detective quantum efficiency (DQE(f)) of I-FPDs, and is quantified by the Lubberts effect. The depth-dependent MTFs of various scintillators used in I-FPDs have been estimated using Monte Carlo simulations, but have never been measured directly. This work presents the first experimental measurements of the depth-dependent MTF of thallium-doped cesium iodide (CsI) and terbium-doped Gd<sub>2</sub>O<sub>2</sub>S (GOS) scintillators with thickness ranging from 200 – 1000 μm. Light bursts from individual x-ray interactions occurring at known, fixed depths within a scintillator are imaged using an ultra-high-sensitivity II-EMCCD (image-intensifier, electron multiplying charge coupled device) camera. X-ray interaction depth in the scintillator is localized using a micro-slit beam of parallel synchrotron radiation (32 keV), and varied by translation in 50 ± 1 µm depth intervals. Fourier analysis of the imaged light bursts is used to deduce the MTF versus x-ray interaction depth z. Measurements of MTF(z,f) are used to calculate presampling MTF(f) with RQA-M3, RQA5 and RQA9 beam qualities and compared with conventional slanted edge measurements. Images of the depth-varying light bursts are used to derive each scintillator’s Lubberts function for a 32 keV beam.
Active matrix flat panel imagers (AMFPI) have become the dominant detector technology for digital radiography and fluoroscopy. For low dose imaging, electronic noise from the amorphous silicon thin film transistor (TFT) array degrades imaging performance. We have fabricated the first prototype solid-state AMFPI using a uniform layer of avalanche amorphous selenium (a-Se) photoconductor to amplify the signal to eliminate the effect of electronic noise. We have previously developed a large area solid-state avalanche a-Se sensor structure referred to as High Gain Avalanche Rushing Photoconductor (HARP) capable of achieving gains of 75. In this work we successfully deposited this HARP structure onto a 24 x 30 cm<sup>2</sup> TFT array with a pixel pitch of 85 μm. An electric field (<i>E<sub>Se</sub></i>) up to 105 Vμm<sup>-1</sup> was applied across the a-Se layer without breakdown. Using the HARP layer as a direct detector, an X-ray avalanche gain of 15 ± 3 was achieved at <i>E<sub>Se</sub></i> = 105 Vμm<sup>-1</sup>. In indirect mode with a 150 μm thick structured CsI scintillator, an optical gain of 76 ± 5 was measured at <i>E<sub>Se</sub></i> = 105 Vμm<sup>-1</sup>. Image quality at low dose increases with the avalanche gain until the electronic noise is overcome at a constant exposure level of 0.76 mR. We demonstrate the success of a solid-state HARP X-ray imager as well as the largest active area HARP sensor to date.
Flat panel imagers (FPI) are becoming the dominant detector technology for digital x-ray imaging. In indirect FPI, the scintillator that provides the highest image quality is Thallium (Tl) doped Cesium Iodide (CsI) with columnar structure. The maximum CsI thickness used in existing FPI is ~600 microns, due to concerns of loss in spatial resolution and light output with further increase in thickness. The goal of the present work is to investigate the screen-optics for CsI with thicknesses much larger than that used in existing FPI, so that the knowledge can be used to improve imaging performance in dose sensitive and higher energy applications, such as cone-beam CT (CBCT). Columnar CsI(Tl) scintillators up to 1 mm in thickness with different screen-optical design were investigated experimentally. Pulse height spectra (PHS) were measured to determine the Swank factor at x-ray energies between 25 and 75 keV, and to derive depth-dependent light escape efficiency i.e. gain. Detector presampling MTF, NPS and DQE were measured using a high-resolution CMOS optical sensor. Optical Monte Carlo simulation was performed to estimate optical parameters for each screen design and derive depth-dependent gain and MTF, from which overall MTF and DQE were calculated and compared with measured results. The depth-dependent imaging performance parameters were then used in a cascaded linear system model (CLSM) to investigate detector performance under screen- and sensor-side irradiation conditions. The methodology developed for understanding the optics of thick CsI(Tl) will lead to detector optimization in CBCT.