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Oct 18, 2021

Highlights Day One & Two: IEEE NSS-MIC RTSD 2021

- By York Haemisch

Dr York Haemisch, our Director Medical and Research Markets, reports from this year’s virtual IEEE Nuclear Science Symposium and Medical Imaging Conference and 28th International Symposium on Room-Temperature Semiconductor Detectors.

The conference is streaming from Yokohama this year, although we are all now, post pandemic, fluent in our roles as virtual attendees and thus promptly online for the opening event on Saturday. The “short course” on photon counting CT pleasingly transpired to be a substantial five and a half hour session, carefully scheduled to ensure everyone could join with no other conference talks active. This degree of focus on photon counting reflects its status as one of the hottest topics in medical imaging today, and the session was very relevant to our work at Varex/Direct Conversion. Rafael Ballabriga of CERN chaired the event.

Professor Kachelriess from the German Cancer Centre in Heidelberg opened the course with an introduction to the basics of CT, the specific characteristics of dual energy CT and their implementations by commercial vendors. As Professor Kachelriess has been engaged in research work with all kinds of CTs – including the latest PC-CT prototype by Siemens – he was able to illustrate his talk with real measurements and data, making this a persuasive account of the benefits of the technology. His clinical imaging examples effectively supported  the necessity for photon counting CT, with the motivating factors of reduction in (beam hardening) artifacts, lower dose to patients and the significantly higher image resolution.

Our second talk was presented by Mats Person from KTH Stockholm and Mats Danielsson, the founder and CEO of Prismatic Sensors, a startup intended to commercialise silicon-based photon counting X-ray detectors that was recently acquired by GE Healthcare. They, of course, focused on what is called the “deep silicon” detector, proposed as an alternative to the typical CdTe or CZT based detectors.

The Chair, Rafael Ballabriga from CERN, took to the online stand, as it were, for the third talk, to give an overview of the development of signal processing techniques in photon counting X-ray detectors’ ASICs, including those that are available today. His talk encompassed the basics of signal processing in such ASICs and, of course, given his background as a CERN researcher, had a certain focus on the Medipix and Timepix developments, which originate from CERN.

The course was concluded by Adam S. Wang from Stanford, who provided a compelling account for the clinical potential of spectral separation. He had a number of interesting examples to show to us that revealed increased diagnostic confidence, reduced dose to the patient and reduced levels of artifacts, which are the desirable outcomes of this technology.

Sunday’s program saw a whole series of parallel short courses and workshops which spanned a wide range of subjects, from the art of scientific writing through the application of machine learning, to collider experiments and the specifics of PET scintillation detectors.

One workshop, in particular, dealt with the radiation measurements on Fukushima’s environmental recovery and on image reconstruction challenges in whole body PET.  However, for those interested in X-ray photon counting, this day’s program was perhaps less relevant.

Keep up to date with the conference with York’s regular reports in Direct Conversion news.