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Structured scintillators for medical imaging


It is the aim of the STRING project to significantly increase the performance and reduce the price of PET scanners by an innovative concept in which the scintillator crystals are replaced by scintillator stacks consisting of a fast scintillator incorporating multifunctional ceramic thin films for spectral conversion. In state-of-the-art PET scanners gadoliniumsilicate (GSO) or lutetiumsilicate (LSO) single crystals doped with light emitting Ce3+ ions are used for detection of the high energy photons. Th e STRING project aims at developing ceramic scintillators with faster emission, higher conversion efficiency and reduced production cost. Firstly the luminescence of Pr3+ and Nd3+ will be explored in a variety of host lattices to obtain new and faster scintillator materials. Next to that research will be done to understand and reduce the time for initial build-up of the emission intensity.

The costly process of single crystal growth will be replaced by the significantly cheaper production of highly transparent ceramic scintillators via sintering of polycrystalline powders under high pressures. In the STRING project thin ceramic films for spectral conversion will be designed based on efficient organic molecules for conversion from DUV to visible light. The thin film will be optimised to have a match between the UV emission of the scintillator and the organic absorption spectrum.

By embedding the organic molecules in a ceramic porous matrix the stability of the organic molecules under deep-UV irradiation will strongly increase and stable and efficient deep-UV to visible spectral conversion films will be obtained. The final objective of the STRING project is to combine the optimised scintillator materials with the thin film ceramic conversion layer and interference filters into a scintillator stack to replace the scintillator crystals in PET machines.

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