Segmented crystalline scintillators: An initial investigation of high quantum efficiency detectors for megavoltage x-ray imaging

Amit Sawant, Larry E. Antonuk, Youcef El-Mohri, Qihua Zhao, Yixin Li, Zhong Su, Yi Wang, Jin Yamamoto, Hong Du, Ian Cunningham, Misha Klugerman, Kanai Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Electronic portal imaging devices (EPIDs) based on indirect detection, active matrix flat panel imagers (AMFPIs) have become the technology of choice for geometric verification of patient localization and dose delivery in external beam radiotherapy. However, current AMFPI EPIDs, which are based on powdered-phosphor screens, make use of only ∼2% of the incident radiation, thus severely limiting their imaging performance as quantified by the detective quantum efficiency (DQE) (∼1%, compared to ∼75% for kilovoltage AMFPIs). With the rapidly increasing adoption of image-guided techniques in virtually every aspect of radiotherapy, there exist strong incentives to develop high-DQE megavoltage x-ray imagers, capable of providing soft-tissue contrast at very low doses in megavoltage tomographic and, potentially, projection imaging. In this work we present a systematic theoretical and preliminary empirical evaluation of a promising, high-quantum-efficiency, megavoltage x-ray detector design based on a two-dimensional matrix of thick, optically isolated, crystalline scintillator elements. The detector is coupled with an indirect detection-based active matrix array, with the center-to-center spacing of the crystalline elements chosen to match the pitch of the underlying array pixels. Such a design enables the utilization of a significantly larger fraction of the incident radiation (up to 80% for a 6 MV beam), through increases in the thickness of the crystalline elements, without loss of spatial resolution due to the spread of optical photons. Radiation damage studies were performed on test samples of two candidate scintillator materials, CsI(Tl) and BGO, under conditions relevant to radiotherapy imaging. A detailed Monte Carlo-based study was performed in order to examine the signal, spatial spreading, and noise properties of the absorbed energy for several segmented detector configurations. Parameters studied included scintillator material, septal wall material, detector thickness, and the thickness of the septal walls. The results of the Monte Carlo simulations were used to estimate the upper limits of the modulation transfer function, noise power spectrum and the DQE for a select number of configurations. An exploratory, small-area prototype segmented detector was fabricated by infusing crystalline CsI(Tl) in a 2 mm thick tungsten matrix, and the signal response was measured under radiotherapy imaging conditions. Results from the radiation damage studies showed that both CsI(Tl) and BGO exhibited less than ∼15% reduction in light output after 2500 cGy equivalent dose. The prototype CsI(Tl) segmented detector exhibited high uniformity, but a lower-than-expected magnitude of signal response. Finally, results from Monte Carlo studies strongly indicate that high scintillator-fill-factor configurations, incorporating high-density scintillator and septal wall materials, could achieve up to 50 times higher DQE compared to current AMFPI EPIDs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3067-3083
Number of pages17
JournalMedical physics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2005


  • DQE
  • Flat panel imager
  • Portal imaging
  • Quantum efficiency
  • Segmented crystal detectors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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