Medical Imaging

The research line of “applied physics” was established in 1998 and it is mainly focused on solid-state pixel detectors technology and its use in digital medical imaging. Solid state pixel detector are used in many detectors in the field of High Energy Physics and the aim of our research line is mold this existing technology into a useful form to service the interest of the public.

IFAE is member of Medipix2 collaboration (based at CERN). Having access to the Medipix2 chip, IFAE coordinated an EU-FP5 funded project (Detection Of Early Markers in Mammography, QLRT-2001-01318) for the development of digital mammography machine and general radiography machine, using Si and CdTe detectors with pixel pitch of 55um. A spin-off, X-ray Imatek SL ( has resulted from this project. X-ray Imatek SL is currently developing an industrial digital mammography prototype and later it will focus on establishing the production line and the marketing strategy world wide for such mammography machine.

IFAE has developed, in collaboration with UDIAT-Hospital Parc Tauli and Centro Nacional de Microelectronica (CNM-IMB), a 3D real-time breast biopsy machine.

The new biopsy system allows the doctor to do the biopsy intervention in more easy way as he/she can see in real-time the tip of biopsy needle approaching the target inside the breast tissue. It is also a very precise tool given that the operator can see the needle and the breast tissue in 3D and therefore can locate the exact position of the needle’s tip without any ambiguities. Such biopsy device can reduce the time of the biopsy intervention and this is excellent news for both the doctor and the patient. The machine was presented in the 36th International Salon of Inventions 2008, Geneva, Switzerland, and it was awarded the Silver Medal.

In correlation with our activities in pixel detectors, IFAE is leading the development of flip-chip and bonding process of pixel detector in collaboration with CNM-IMB. We use for the project the bonding machine FC150 which has the accuracy of 1um at 3 sigmas, thus it allows the bonding of pixel detectors, or multi-chip-modules (MCM), with pixel pitch down to 15um. Such bonding process will provide a fundamental infrastructure for R&D on pixel readout chip, pixel detector, MCM and high density packaging, and in the field of Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS).

Recently, IFAE has started to work on the development of new generation of Positron-Emission-Tomography (PET) Scanner, in collaboration with CIEMAT and CNM-IMB. The new PET scanner will resolve many intrinsic limitations that are embedded in the current PET devices. Preliminary simulation results, using Geant4, show that one can operate the scanner at a lower dose, by a factor of 25, and without compromising on the spatial resolution. Moreover the modular geometry of the sensor allows us to use the PET scanner in high magnetic field, thus making it the choice for Brain imaging with dual modality PET+MRI. Given that this new PET scanner can operate at very low dose, with high spatial resolution, and strong magnetic field, then it will be in ideal tools to develop medicine for cancer and Alzheimer by allowing the doctors to repeat the test many times to see the response of the cancerous tissues or the brain activities to the treatments.


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