Performance evaluation of polycrystalline HgI2 photoconductors for radiation therapy imaging

Qihua Zhao, Larry E. Antonuk, Youcef El-Mohri, Yi Wang, Hong Du, Amit Sawant, Zhong Su, Jin Yamamoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Purpose: Electronic portal imaging devices based on megavoltage (MV), active matrix, flat-panel imagers (AMFPIs) are presently regarded as the gold standard in portal imaging for external beam radiation therapy. These devices, employing indirect detection of incident radiation by means of a metal plate plus phosphor screen combination, offer a quantum efficiency of only ∼2% at 6 MV, leading to a detective quantum efficiency (DQE) of only ∼1%. In order to significantly improve the DQE performance of MV AMFPIs, a strategy based on the development of direct detection imagers incorporating thick films of polycrystalline mercuric iodide (HgI2) photoconductor was undertaken and is reported. Methods: Two MV AMFPI prototypes, one incorporating an ∼300 μm thick HgI2 layer created through physical vapor deposition (PVD) and a second incorporating an ∼460 μm thick HgI2 layer created through screen-printing of particle-in-binder (PIB) material, were quantitatively evaluated using a 6 MV photon beam. The reported measurements include empirical determination of x-ray sensitivity, lag, modulation transfer function (MTF), noise power spectrum, and DQE. Results: For both prototypes, MTF and DQE results were found to be consistent with theoretical expectations and the MTFs were also found to be higher than that measured from a conventional MV AMFPI. In addition, the DQE results exhibit input-quantum-limited behavior, even at extremely low doses. Compared to PVD, the PIB prototype exhibits much lower dark current, slightly higher lag, and similar DQE. Finally, the challenges associated with this approach, as well as strategies for achieving considerably higher DQE through thicker HgI2 layers, are discussed. Conclusions: The DQE of each of the prototypes is found to be comparable to that of conventional MV AMFPIs, commensurate with the modest photoconductor thicknesses of these early samples. It is anticipated that thicker layers of HgI2 based on PIB deposition can provide higher DQE while maintaining good material properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2738-2748
Number of pages11
JournalMedical physics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • DQE
  • EPID
  • Flat-panel imager
  • Megavoltage x-ray imaging
  • PIB
  • PVD
  • Polycrystalline mercuric iodide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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