Segmented phosphors: MEMS-based high quantum efficiency detectors for megavoltage x-ray imaging

Amit Sawant, Larry E. Antonuk, Youcef El-Mohri, Yixin Li, Zhong Su, Yi Wang, Jin Yamamoto, Qihua Zhao, Hong Du, Jurgen Daniel, Robert Street

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Current electronic portal imaging devices (EPIDs) based on active matrix flat panel imager (AMFPI) technology use a metal plate+phosphor screen combination for x-ray conversion. As a result, these devices face a severe trade-off between x-ray quantum efficiency (QE) and spatial resolution, thus, significantly limiting their imaging performance. In this work, we present a novel detector design for indirect detection-based AMFPI EPIDs that aims to circumvent this trade-off. The detectors were developed using micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS)-based fabrication techniques and consist of a grid of up to ∼2 mm tall, optically isolated cells of a photoresist material, SU-8. The cells are dimensionally matched to the pixels of the AMFPI array, and packed with a scintillating phosphor. In this paper, various design considerations for such detectors are examined. An empirical evaluation of three small-area (∼7 x 7 cm2) prototype detectors is performed in order to study the effects of two design parameters - cell height and phosphor packing density, both of which are important determinants of the imaging performance. Measurements of the x-ray sensitivity, modulation transfer function (MTF) and noise power spectrum (NPS) were performed under radiotherapy conditions (6 MV), and the detective quantum efficiency (DQE) was determined for each prototype SU-8 detector. In addition, theoretical calculations using Monte Carlo simulations were performed to determine the QE of each detector, as well as the inherent spatial resolution due to the spread of absorbed energy. The results of the present studies were compared with corresponding measurements published in an earlier study using a Lanex Fast-B phosphor screen coupled to an indirect detection array of the same design. The SU-8 detectors exhibit up to 3 times higher QE, while achieving spatial resolution comparable or superior to Lanex Fast-B. However, the DQE performance of these early prototypes is significantly lower than expected due to high levels of optical Swank noise. Consequently, the SU-8 detectors presently exhibit DQE values comparable to Lanex Fast-B at zero spatial frequency and significantly lower than Fast-B at higher frequencies. Finally, strategies for reducing Swank noise are discussed and theoretical calculations, based on the cascaded systems model, are presented in order to estimate the performance improvement that can be achieved through such noise reduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)553-565
Number of pages13
JournalMedical physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005


  • Active matrix flat panel imager
  • DQE
  • Portal imaging
  • Quantum efficiency
  • Segmented detectors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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