Nikon-UCL Prosperity Partnership on Next-Generation X-Ray Imaging

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Medical Physics and Biomedical Eng

Abstract

X-Ray Imaging (XRI) has a fundamental role in medicine and security, and is instrumental in the automotive, aerospace, pharmaceutical industries and in manufacturing in general. Cultural heritage relies on XRI, as do materials science, biology, and many other scientific fields. Through our established collaboration between Nikon X-Tek Systems (NXTS, Nikon's UK based x-ray division) and UCL, we are targeting the next paradigm shift in XRI. Our vision is that this will involve the incorporation of phase effects in the image formation process ("Phase-based" XRI) coupled with energy-resolved ("colour") XRI and new data reconstruction and interpretation algorithms. "Colour" XRI could be seen as the x-ray equivalent of the transition from black and white to colour photography, meaning a much wider spectrum of information can be obtained from the imaged sample. Phase-based XRI enables contrast increases of up to two orders of magnitude, thus allowing the detection of features classically considered "x-ray invisible".

Our vision is to marry UCL's world-class research and expertise on phase-based XRI, inverse problems and nanofabrication with NXTS's innovation on scatter analysis, image reconstruction and colour x-ray imaging in order to achieve the next step change in XRI technology, with the UK industrial and academic communities firmly at the centre. This will deliver transformative solutions that are practicable in an industrial context and beneficial to a wide user base, while also enabling new science. Our ambition is to replace conventional attenuation based XRI with energy-resolved, phase-based technology combined with scatter retrieval and novel algorithms in most application areas.

At synchrotron facilities, UCL researchers have used phase-based XRI to image rocks, metals, tissues, animals, humans, cells, foams, fabrics, batteries, manufacturing processes, food, and heritage artefacts. They have done this statically and dynamically, in situ and in operando, in vivo and ex vivo, invariably detecting key features that were invisible to other methods. Making this available through standard, lab-size machines would be nothing short of a revolution, leading to economic and societal impact through the multi-disciplinary applications, making NXTS the commercial leader in the field, and cementing UK's leading research status. In our vision this will be strengthen even further by its combination with "colour" imaging, and with new ways of handling scattered radiation such that the "structured" scatter signal leading to additional information is exploited, while the uniform background that limits image contrast and therefore detail visibility is rejected.

We will pursue this vision through a combination of modelling and experimental work. Using experimentally validated simulation software developed jointly by the UCL and NXTS teams, we will model experiments before they are carried out, compare simulated and experimental results, refine models and setups until all discrepancies are clarified, and only then proceed to the next step. This will enable us to develop systems where i) we keep all parameters under control and have full understanding of their effects and implications, and ii) we can steer the design towards effective solutions to specific problems. Cutting-edge nanofabrication methods (available at UCL's Photonic Innovations Lab and London Centre for Nanotechnology) will enable the development of beam modulators that allow the exploitation of phase effects with the conventional x-ray sources routinely used by NXTS.

We will apply the novel technologies to a range of high-impact applications, including non-destructive testing of composite materials and additive manufacturing processes and products, biomaterials and tissue-engineered organs, digital histology, improved detection of concealed explosives and forensics.

Planned Impact

The areas this partnership will have impact on are wide and diverse. X-Ray Imaging (XRI) has a fundamental role not just in medicine and security, but also in the automotive, aerospace, pharmaceutical industries and in manufacturing in general. These are all key areas of the UK's Industrial Strategy, and indeed advanced imaging underpins many of the themes highlighted by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and by Sector Deals such as those in life sciences, automotive, creative industries. Moreover, cultural heritage relies on XRI, as do materials science, biology, and many other scientific fields. We expect this partnership to deliver impact on all of these fields, and to keep the UK on the forefront of the development of new imaging techniques. Through the close interaction between academic and industrial researchers, it will deliver innovation that can be directly applied to real world problems, with UK Plc set to reap the benefits. It will enable the UK's leading manufacturer of x-ray micro-CT systems to rise from its current position as world's third to world's first, and re-invigorate the entire field of non-destructive testing by opening opportunities to test and detect features which are currently inaccessible. It will create a knock-on beneficial effect on neighbouring industries such as x-ray sensors (with some of the UK's leading companies involved in the programme from the beginning) and microfabrication. This will result in both wealth and job creation. It will also deliver a unique, inter-disciplinary training opportunity for students and early career researchers in this area, and reach out at the general public and policymakers through an intense engagement activity.

Notable example of application areas include:
- Industry, e.g. for assessing and monitoring processes and products in additive manufacturing;
- Medicine, e.g. for the detection of life-threatening diseases such as cancer;
- Energy, e.g. for understanding failure mechanisms and developing fail-safe batteries;
- Security, e.g. for higher detection rate of threat objects at airports, with fewer false alarms.
The key strategy we will pursue to deliver this impact is through the creation of a consortium around the NXTS/UCL partnership to ensure maximum development, application and ultimately exploitation of the developed technologies. As far as applications to industry and energy are concerned, NXTS already has an impressive customer base, including many leading UK companies such as Rolls Royce and Mc Laren. Recently, NXTS has expanded their range of interests to include significant aspects in biomedicine and in the life sciences in general. This is an area where the UCL team is particularly strong, and has a wide range of collaborators both at UCL and beyond (for a partial list see https://www.ucl.ac.uk/medical-physics-biomedical-engineering/research/groups-and-centres/advanced-x-ray-imaging-group-axim), who will act as "champions" for the various biomedical applications and provide the required, relevant samples. The NXTS and UCL teams have also recently engaged with various Authorities to look into the development of solutions for security, especially as far as the detection of concealed explosives is concerned. This wide range of multidisciplinary contacts will enable us to create a community of stakeholders and opinion leaders, facilitating the realisation of impact in all its forms.

Importantly, industry will not be the only beneficiary. For example in medical applications, clinicians will have access to better diagnostic tools, the NHS and other health services worldwide could reduce costs and provide better healthcare and, ultimately and most importantly, the patients would receive better care leading to improved life quality/expectancy. A similarly "multilayered" impact is expected in most of the other application areas, e.g. through improved security at airports or the availability of better industrial products.

Publications

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Alikunju R (2023) Effect of different scintillator choices on the X-ray imaging performance of CMOS sensors in Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment

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Doherty A (2020) Optimal and automated mask alignment for use in edge illumination X-ray differential-phase and dark-field imaging techniques in Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment

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Esposito M (2022) Test and optimisation of a multi-modal phase-based x-ray microscope for soft tissue imaging. in Proceedings of SPIE--the International Society for Optical Engineering

 
Description During year 1 of the programme, which was severely disrupted by covid, we managed to make progress in a number of directions, including:
- cycloidal computed tomography: this is a new type of CT in which the object is roto-translated in a structured x-ray beam. It increases resolution at no dose/time cost, and indeed holds promise for significant dose reductions. The first paper on cycloidal CT was picked up by a large number of media outlets worldwide;
- we have developed novel approaches to the testing of composite materials - a staple of the automotive and areospace industries. Work is still underway, but we have clear evidence of the ability to pick up defects and damage undetected by previous test methods;
- we have made great strides with "aperture driven resolution" - a new approach to x-ray imaging where, unlike conventional methods, the spatial resolution in the image is not determined by the detector pixels nor focal spot size;
- we have developed a dynamic multimodal x-ray imaging method and shown it can bear advantages in the emerging field of additive manufacturing;
- we have developed a novel, non-iterative method to integrate differential phase images that does not create image artefacts.

Year 2 of the award brought some additional significant results, namely:
- determination that intra-operative scanners can be used to perform digital histology through a minor hardware adaptation
- use of the same to perform digital histology on breast tumours, which provided results beyond expectations (e.g. direct visualisation of the impact of chemotherapy on tissue)
- development of new tools to support protocols for regenerative medicine
- development of a low x-ray energy phase-based microscope based on aperture-driven resolution and early applications to biomedical specimens
- development of phase-attenuation duality as an alternative to dual energy (DE), which can be used for applications requiring low x-ray energy at which conventional DE breaks down
- further advances on applications to composites, with demonstration that phase-based methods can be used to benchmark the porosity content

Year 3 is our last "exploratory" year - our programme is divided in two parts, a first one where we cast the net broadly, explore multiple possibilities and develop new technological ideas, and a second one in which we select the most promising directions for exploitation and develop them in full. Initially we were envisaging a 50/50 split between exploration and development (i.e. two 2.5 year phases for each activity), but we extended the exploratory phase to 3 years to compensate for the time lost during the covid lockdowns. We are currently contemplating a 6-month extension so that the development phase can last 2.5 years as initially envisaged.

Innovations developed in year 3 include:
- An extension of the study/analysis of direct conversion/"colour" x-ray detector solutions, inclusive of data collection at some of the prospective vendors, the analysis of which will determine what technology Nikon will incorporate in their scanners - this is part of their exploitation plan (see below).
- The development of quantitative dark-field microscopy, through which properties on the nanometric features that produce the (averaged) dark-field signal can be extracted from the signal itself. More generally, the microscopy-based implementation has been used to collect what are, to the best of our knowledge, the first phase-based images of (cartilage) cells in a standard lab.
- The linking of the dark-field signal obtained with our methods to classic scattering theory, which also enabled casting new light on the recently developed "standard deviation of refraction" signal and its possible applications. This was made possible by the collaboration with synchrotrons ESRF and Elettra.
- Following demonstration on additive manufacturing at Diamond (see year 1 results), the dynamic multi-modal method was developed further, with a new application to molten pool dynamics (still at Diamond), the first test on a life science application at the ESRF, and early tests on adaptation for use in conventional laboratories which are currently under way.
- The development of a new approach combining phase-based and energy-resolved methods, for material discrimination and identification. Its combination with deep learning methods led to extremely high detection rates against threat materials, which was widely reported by media and has spawned a series of new studies, including with new collaborators.
- The development of a new edge illumination mask with a "slanted" design enabling isotropic super-resolution with sample and/or mask scanning in one direction only (as opposed to two).
- The refinement of the "cycloidal CT" method (see year 1) by using positional tracking to improve its robustness and the reliability of the reconstructions, in view of commercial adaptation by Nikon (this is also part of their exploitation plan).
- The development of directional dark-field imaging and its application to a series of areas.

As anticipated, review of the results obtained so far has enabled Nikon to develop an exploitation plan which will commence already in the second part of this programme. This is a 4-phase plan commencing with 1. the introduction of direct conversion/"colour" x-ray detector solutions in their system, followed by 2. "maskless" (i.e. propagation-based) x-ray phase contrast, 3. use of masks to implement cycloidal CT, 4. mask-based x-ray phase contrast. Work will now focus on these 4 areas to ensure a rapid and successful translation.

On top of this, new detector prototypes have been developed with two of the collaborating companies (Scintacor and ISDI), and we are in discussions with a host of additional companies to take forward the exploitation areas Nikon does not plan to tackle in first person (e.g microscopy with low-energy x-rays and security applications). Collaborations with synchrotrons will lead to new imaging methods becoming available to their user base.
Exploitation Route This work is a direct collaboration with Nikon X-Tek Systems and has three more companies as "external" partners, which will be the main conduit for exploitation of the obtained results. Discussions with additional companies are underway to maximise translation of all findings developed in this programme.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Education,Electronics,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology,Security and Diplomacy,Transport,Other

URL https://www.next-generation-x-ray-imaging.com/
 
Description 4-step exploitation plan developed by Nikon X-Tek Systems to take the new technologies we have developed to the market (see "Key Findings" for details). In parallel, new product prototypes have also been developed with collaborating companies Scintacor and ISDI.
First Year Of Impact 2022
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Chemicals,Construction,Electronics,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport
Impact Types Economic

 
Description A new approach to material identification with x-rays based on the attenuation/phase duality
Amount £69,321 (GBP)
Organisation Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (DSTL) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2021 
End 07/2021
 
Description Complete Material Characterisation Through A Single Polychromatic X-ray Scan
Amount £202,246 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/X018377/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2022 
End 07/2024
 
Description In-process Carbon Fibre Alignment Monitoring
Amount £49,566 (GBP)
Funding ID part of EP/P006930/1 
Organisation University of Huddersfield 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2021 
End 05/2022
 
Description National Research Facility for Lab X-ray CT
Amount £10,097,652 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/T02593X/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2020 
End 10/2025
 
Title Cycloidal Computed Tomography 
Description This is a new CT method in which the object is rototranslated in a structured beam. It increases resolution and there is prelimnary evidence that it can lead to dose reductions. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This has been the subject of a UCL press release, and picked up by several media worldwide, e.g.: https://physicstoday.scitation.org/do/10.1063/PT.6.1.20200730a/full/ https://physicsworld.com/a/cycloidal-ct-boosts-image-quality-while-reducing-radiation-dose/ https://www.news-medical.net/news/20200724/Novel-CT-scan-method-reduces-radiation-exposure.aspx https://www.medimaging.net/general-imaging/articles/294783761/innovative-ct-scan-technique-reduces-radiation-exposure.html https://medicaldialogues.in/radiology/news/new-ct-scan-technique-may-help-lower-radiation-exposure-67943 https://www.wbmirror.com/2020/07/24/new-ct-scan-method-lowers-radiation-exposure/ https://www.theimagingwire.com/2020/07/27/pocus-alternative-cv19-pxs-pain-change/ https://www.itnonline.com/content/new-ct-scan-method-lowers-radiation-exposure https://www.diagnosticimaging.com/view/new-ct-method-could-lower-radiation-exposure https://www.auntminnieeurope.com/index.aspx?sec=ser?=def&pag=dis&ItemID=619072 https://www.healthimaging.com/topics/diagnostic-imaging/ct-slashes-radiation-retaining-image-quality?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=hi_diagnostic_imaging https://www.plexusmd.com/md/post/cycloidal-computed-tomography-a-novel/56502 http://colgatephys111.blogspot.com/2020/11/dr-charlotte-hagen.html https://www.mazree.com/article/the-most-innovative-medical-equipment-in-2020/74 https://qsstudy.com/technology/new-ct-scan-technique-reduces-radiation-exposure https://www.dotmed.com/news/story/52036 
URL https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2020/jul/new-ct-scan-method-lowers-radiation-exposure
 
Title dynamic multi-modal x-ray imaging 
Description We have developed a method that simultaneously acquires three complementary dynamic sequences (x-ray videos) of an evolving phenomenon based on x-ray attenuation, phase and scattering 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2021 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact No impact yet but the method is available to the wider research community and we will strive to adapt it to laboratopry sources for a wider reach 
 
Title laboratory based, low energy, monochromatic phase contrast x-ray microscope 
Description A new phase-based x-ray microscope capable of visualising cells and their nuclei without staining built using standard laboratory equipment 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2022 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact At the moment it is offered as a research tool to other users. A company is developing a pre-commercial prototype. 
 
Title Non-iterative phase integration 
Description Most x-ray phase imaging methods are "differential" i.e. yield the first derivative of the phase change - this has to be integrated to obtaine the phase, and direct integration results in significant image artefacts. Up to now the only way to obtain artefact-free integration was through iterative approaches, which are extremely computationally intensive - making applications in CT very difficult, as in that case many images (one per projection angle) need to be integrated. We have developed a non-iterative method that yields equivalently artefact-free results. 
Type Of Material Data analysis technique 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact It is too early to say but we expect it will be widely adopted; our group and our collaborators are already using it. 
 
Description Anglo-Scientific 
Organisation Anglo Scientific Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We have developed a joint commercialisation strategy, initially in the area of security. This area is currently licensed out to Nikon, and Nikon and Anglo-Scientific are developing a collaboration agreement to jointly pursue exploitation in this field. Anglo-Scientific has set up a dedicated company to do so (XPCI Technology Ltd), and we have also jointly submitted an application to the first call of the Future Aviation Security Solutions (FASS) scheme, which was successful.
Collaborator Contribution They helped us scope out exploitation routes in security and conducted a "mini-due-diligence" study on the technology, to be followed shortly by full due diligence. This brings our technology closer to the market and increases its value.
Impact new company founded and collaboration/exploitation framework under development
Start Year 2014
 
Description Catholic University of Louvain 
Organisation Catholic University of Louvain
Country Belgium 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have provided access to our new soft x-ray phase based microscope
Collaborator Contribution They have provided samples and opened up a new research direction
Impact none yet
Start Year 2022
 
Description Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica 
Organisation CMP Information
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We are providing datasets on which to flexibly implement and further develop their machine learning solutions
Collaborator Contribution They are providing us with access to their machine learning solutions
Impact Still early but we have a first joint paper in preparation
Start Year 2019
 
Description Creatv Microtech 
Organisation Creatv MicroTech
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Creatv Microtech has fabricated most of the masks we have used so far in our edge-illuminaiton approach. I have effectively opened a new line of business for them, since other groups have ordered similar devices since. I have visited them in two occasions and held lectures to explain how we use the masks and why, which culminated in meetings aimed at improving the mask fabrication process. The first iteration has already taken place resulting in masks with less defects and better gold/substrate adhesion; another is imminent which will be aimed at the fabrication of masks with larger areas.
Collaborator Contribution Creatv Microtech has fabricated for free a number of test structures, which we used in several experiments. In one occasions, they have invited me over at their expenses and showed me their facilities, which enabled a much better understanding of the mask fabrication process and especially of what can and cannot be done with the technology. They have also brokered contacts with the FDA (wit which the terms of a collaboration are under discussion which, if successful, will result in their endorsement of our technology) and with the Frederick Cancer Institute, again a very valuable contact for future collaborations.
Impact Papers are not particularly relevant in this case although one could argue that most edge-illumination phase contrast papers would not have been possible without Creatv Microtech. One important outcome is the availability of mask-based systems not only in our labs but also at Elettra, Diamond and the ESRF (for what concerns our collaborators), plus other labs worldwide e.g. the Universities of Houston and Saskatchewan and soon the FDA and possibly DESY in Hamburg, Germany; considering that out technology is very young we expect this to keep growing in the near future.
Start Year 2006
 
Description Diamond 
Organisation Diamond Light Source
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution I have been involved in the beamline design phase as a member of the user working group. When the beamtime became operational, I have installed an edge illumination system at beamline I13 and developed two other new phase-based imaging methods which will become available to the user community.
Collaborator Contribution They have provided access to beamtime, sample preparation and other labs, analysis software, computational resources, participated in the data analyse sand in proposal and paper writing.
Impact So far this has resulted in 6 joint publications; moreover a long (6 days) beamtime has recently (Nov 2014) been concluded and analysis of the data is underway, which we expect to lead to more publications. As well as physics and engineering, applications of the new imaging methods have so far included medicine, biology and material science.
Start Year 2008
 
Description Direct Conversion 
Organisation Direct Conversion AB
Country Sweden 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We are opening new areas of application for their detection technology
Collaborator Contribution They provide us with access to, and training on, new detector technology
Impact We have published some papers based on their detection technology, and one of their detectors is currently part of a pre-commercial prototype develop (with mutual knowledge) by a 3rd party - details are still confidential at this stage
Start Year 2015
 
Description Elettra Synchrotron 
Organisation Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste
Country Italy 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I have installed an edge illumination phase contrast system at beamline 6.1 "SYRMEP" at ELETTRA. This is now available also to other users (e.g. a paper is currently (Nov 2014) in press on Phys. Med. Biol., for the first time without the direct involvement of my group); for the time being on a collaborative basis, in the longer term to all users. ELETTRA is the only beamline in the world where phase contrast mammography is performed in vivo on human patients: plans are currently underway to include edge-illumination in the clinical experimentation for additional phase sensitivity. A large EU grant has recently been submitted as a first step in this direction.
Collaborator Contribution They have provided free beamtime in many occasions, as well as access to support labs, sample preparation, fabrication, bench top CT machines etc. They have participated in the data analysis and writing of the papers.
Impact So far this resulted in 9 joint papers (see publication list), with more in preparation. The collaboration is interdisciplinary as it combines physics, engineering, medicine, biology, material science.
Start Year 2006
 
Description European Synchrotron Radiation Facility 
Organisation European Synchrotron Radiation Facility
Country France 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution I have installed an edge illumination phase contrast system at beam lie ID17 at the ESRF. This is now available also to other users, for the time being on a collaborative basis, in the longer term to all users. This system enabled establishing a new world record in phase sensitivity (1.9 nano radians) which led to a prestigious paper in PRL. This was reported in the ESRF's research highlights for 2013. In addition, we have opened new areas of research e.g. in palaeontology and have currently established a task force for the minimisation of the delivered dose in mammography.
Collaborator Contribution The repeatedly offered in-house research time with full support of the technical and scientific staff, access to analysis and reconstruction software (including remotely from UCL), data storage, access to ancillary instrumentation and to their animal facility. They also participated in the data analysis, paper writing as well as writing of beamtime and grant proposals.
Impact So far, 5 joint papers (see publication list) including in leading journals such as Physical Review Letters and Optics Letters, additional extension of the collaboration network (e.g. with the ESRF detector group and with the Ludwig-Maximillian University of Munich) and recently the submission of a large EU collaborative grant (pending). The collaboration is highly interdisciplinary and combines physics and engineering with medicine, biology, palaeontology, material science and other disciplines.
Start Year 2011
 
Description ISDI 
Organisation Lackland Independent School District
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We are helping develop and test new detection technology, as well as developing new application areas.
Collaborator Contribution They provide us access to their detection technology and design know-how; they are also currently co-funding a PhD student
Impact This collaboration has only just started, and mutual training is underway.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Institut national de la recherche scientifique 
Organisation INRS
Country Canada 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have introduced a new imaging technique to their unique laser-plasma x-ray source
Collaborator Contribution They hosted us for an experiment using their unique laser-plasma x-ray source
Impact Too early - the first experiment just took place and analysis is underway
Start Year 2023
 
Description Institute of Child Health 
Organisation University College London
Department Institute of Child Health
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The research of the group we collaborate with focuses on stem cell-based regenerative medicine. I have started to solve one of their key problems which is the visualisation of scaffold repopulation processes post cell implantation, as well as structure of the scaffolds themselves (they use very peculiar scaffolds obtained from decellularized animal or cadaveric tissue).
Collaborator Contribution They have provided a large number of extremely valuable, refined and unique samples for both our synchrotron and lab-based experiments, plus key data interpretation as this is a completely new area for us. They have contributed to the data analysis and paper writing.
Impact This is a very recent collaboration however one paper is currently under review with a high impact factor journal (Journal of Hepatology, IF 10.4) and two more are in preparation. The collaboration is exquisitely interdisciplinary - physics, engineering and imaging science meet medicine and biology.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Microworks 
Organisation MicroWorks
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We are suggesting new x-ray mask designs to target new application, and testing them once they have been produced
Collaborator Contribution They stretched their design capabilities to design "ad hoc" masks, and provide test structures
Impact Too early - first experiments extremely promising.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Nikon Japan and Nikon Metrology UK 
Organisation Nikon
Department Nikon UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution I have introduced Nikon to our new imaging technology, provided them with access to our labs, explored together new areas of application in metrology and industrial testing. The next steps will be to extend this to new applications and help them with the design of a prototype that will be installed in Japan.
Collaborator Contribution The Nikon team has funded x-ray phase contrast research at UCL in three successive instalments, for the overall total indicated above. A team from Nikon has repeatedly visited us and we have performed a series of experiments together, as well as joint data analysis. They have provided several samples as well as new analysis tools, especially for dark field imaging. They have installed a new x-ray source in our labs and repeatedly given access to their labs in Tring for preliminary tests.
Impact Albeit most of the specific sample-orientated research is unpublished for confidentiality reasons, this research led to the development of the first lab-based hard x-ray phase contrast imaging microscope (See Endrizzi et al 2014 Opt. Lett. paper in outputs, where Nikon appears in the acknowledgments). It led to a new instrument being available in the UCL phase contrast labs which has successfully been used by other communities (e.g. for the development of electrochemical devices, where we have demonstrated detection of dendritic formation in lithium-based batteries - paper in preparation). In this sense this collaboration is interdisciplinary as it covers physics, mathematics of image reconstruction, industrial testing, energy materials, materials for transport (e.g. composites). We have plans to expand this in the area of biology soon.
Start Year 2012
 
Description PSI 
Organisation Paul Scherrer Institute
Country Switzerland 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I have hosted one staff from PSI to conduct a joint experiment
Collaborator Contribution Staff time, novel detector technology, meetings, data analysis
Impact Too early - data analysis is still underway
Start Year 2018
 
Description Photonic Science 
Organisation Photonic Science
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We have modified a design of one of their cameras by intriducing a structured scintillator matching the requirements of our phase-based imaging methods
Collaborator Contribution They run preliminary tests on the camera to our requests then made the camera available for testing in our labs
Impact We have developed new detection technology and proven it works, including tests on a medical application (hence the interdisciplinary angle). We are currently making plans to take this forward.
Start Year 2020
 
Description QMUL 
Organisation Queen Mary University of London
Department Barts Cancer Institute
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I have proposed the use of our new imaging techniques for a) the earlier diagnosis of breast cancer and b) a tool to detect tumour micro-invasion in tissue contrast. I have imaged ~100 tissue specimens with our laboratory setup, and a few tens of tissue constructs with synchrotron radiation (at Diamond).
Collaborator Contribution They have provided hundreds of samples, trained my team on tissue histology and tumour formation, image interpretation, histological confirmation.
Impact We have published 2 papers together and co-written a successful grant application. The research is at the interface between physics/engineering and medicine/biology.
Start Year 2008
 
Description Quantum Detectors 
Organisation Quantum Detectors
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We have agreed to collaborate and actions have not started yet; we will use their detector technology in a radically new application.
Collaborator Contribution They will provide access to and training on their unique detector technology.
Impact None yet (see above)
Start Year 2019
 
Description Rigaku 
Organisation Rigaku
Country Japan 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Guidelines on adaptation/use of their x-ray source technology in x-ray phase contrast imaging, brokered and run tests for new contacts with additional collaborators.
Collaborator Contribution Source modifications to meet our needs, advice on source use, insight on source technology, simulaiton software, datasheets
Impact Many of teh outcomes listed elsewhere in this portfolio have been enabled by this collaboration.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Royal Veterinary College 
Organisation Royal Veterinary College (RVC)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Novel methods to study cartilage and tendons
Collaborator Contribution samples, new research direction
Impact One joint paper has been submitted
Start Year 2022
 
Description Scintacor 
Organisation Scintacor
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We are providing them access to our technology, co-developing a completely new application
Collaborator Contribution They are developing a new process for a structured scintillator that would transform our x-ray phase contrast imaging method
Impact We have set up the process and are currently refining it; this will be followed by tests which will clarify the potential of the application.
Start Year 2018
 
Description University of Copenhagen and Technical University of Denmark 
Organisation University of Copenhagen
Country Denmark 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have hosted one of their team who has carried an experiment with our kit, data analysis is underway and the results are expected to lead to a publication
Collaborator Contribution Offer of staff time, collaboratuion in data analysis
Impact see above - analysis still underway
Start Year 2018
 
Description University of Leiden 
Organisation Leiden University
Country Netherlands 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Introduction to our phase imaging methods
Collaborator Contribution Introduction to the use of machine learning approaches to improve the reconstruction of images obtained with our methods
Impact We have published a first joint paper and we are planning to expand on our collaboration in the future
Start Year 2020
 
Description University of Les Andes 
Organisation University of the Andes
Country Colombia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have helped them design and set up a phase-based x-ray imaging system and lent them the necessary optical element
Collaborator Contribution they have made detector technology (still to be used) and student/staff time available.
Impact We have published papers and given conference presentations as a result of our joint work; the student who did the hands-on part of the work (a former student of mine while an affiliate at UCL) won the Dean's Prize and is now undertaking a PhD with us. We have planned to continue with more student exchanges, joint system development and new applications; while work so far was mostly in engineering/physics applications will be multi-disciplinary (medicine, etc).
Start Year 2019
 
Title COMPUTED TOMOGRAPHY IMAGING 
Description A computed tomography method seeking higher resolutions without imposing a dose increase is described. A mask (10) forms a plurality of X-ray beam lets (14) which are passed through a subject (6), and images are captured on X-ray detector (8). The subject (6) is moved with respect to the X-ray detector and mask, including a rotation around a y axis, and a computed tomography image is reconstructed from the plurality of measured datapoints. The beam lets (14) are of small size. Figures 4-8 are blurred, figures 10, 11 and 16b contain too small letters/numbers. 
IP Reference WO2020120705 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2020
Licensed No
Impact See other sections for wider impact of cycloidal CT innovation - a partial list of media outlet which have reported it is appended here. We are currently in negotiations with several companies wrt licensing agreements. https://physicstoday.scitation.org/do/10.1063/PT.6.1.20200730a/full/ https://physicsworld.com/a/cycloidal-ct-boosts-image-quality-while-reducing-radiation-dose/ https://www.news-medical.net/news/20200724/Novel-CT-scan-method-reduces-radiation-exposure.aspx https://www.
 
Description A talk or presentation - A talk or presentation - Lecture and detailed discussion on prospective use of technology in new areas of application with interested 3rd party (3DHISTECH) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Develop plans to take our intra-operative imaging technology into clinical trials
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description A talk or presentation - A talk or presentation - Lecture and detailed discussion on prospective use of technology in security scans with interested 3rd party (Rapiscan) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact discussions on prospective implementation of technology for security scans
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description A talk or presentation - Lecture and detailed discussion on prospective use of technology in new areas of application with interested 3rd party (Boeing) through their "Distinguished Research and Scholar Seminar Series" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Engagement with new industrial actor
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Creation of a dedicated website 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Creation of a dedicated website
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://www.next-generation-x-ray-imaging.com/
 
Description Lecture and detailed discussion on prospective use of technology in new areas of application with interested 3rd party (Metrix Ltd) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact ongoing discussion on possible exploitation routes
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Lecture and discussion to large international Homeland Security community through the "SWISS" online seminar series 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Making the wider security community aware of our achievements in that field
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Lecture and discussion with prospective users of the National Research Facility on X-Ray CT 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact An opportunity to explain prospective users of the National Research Facility on X-Ray CT that different ways to do x-ray imaging exist, and what advantages/additional application they could access by using them.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Press release on Cycloidal Computed Tomography 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact UCL issued a press release on our new method when this was published, and this has been rapidly picked up by a large number of outlets worldwide, including:

https://physicstoday.scitation.org/do/10.1063/PT.6.1.20200730a/full/

https://physicsworld.com/a/cycloidal-ct-boosts-image-quality-while-reducing-radiation-dose/

https://www.news-medical.net/news/20200724/Novel-CT-scan-method-reduces-radiation-exposure.aspx

https://www.medimaging.net/general-imaging/articles/294783761/innovative-ct-scan-technique-reduces-radiation-exposure.html

https://medicaldialogues.in/radiology/news/new-ct-scan-technique-may-help-lower-radiation-exposure-67943

https://www.wbmirror.com/2020/07/24/new-ct-scan-method-lowers-radiation-exposure/

https://www.theimagingwire.com/2020/07/27/pocus-alternative-cv19-pxs-pain-change/


https://www.itnonline.com/content/new-ct-scan-method-lowers-radiation-exposure


https://www.diagnosticimaging.com/view/new-ct-method-could-lower-radiation-exposure

https://www.auntminnieeurope.com/index.aspx?sec=ser?=def&pag=dis&ItemID=619072


https://www.healthimaging.com/topics/diagnostic-imaging/ct-slashes-radiation-retaining-image-quality?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=hi_diagnostic_imaging

https://www.plexusmd.com/md/post/cycloidal-computed-tomography-a-novel/56502

http://colgatephys111.blogspot.com/2020/11/dr-charlotte-hagen.html

https://www.mazree.com/article/the-most-innovative-medical-equipment-in-2020/74

https://qsstudy.com/technology/new-ct-scan-technique-reduces-radiation-exposure

https://www.dotmed.com/news/story/52036
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2020/jul/new-ct-scan-method-lowers-radiation-exposure
 
Description Press release on our innovative method for intra-operative specimen imaging 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Our work on intra-operative specimen imaging was particuarly successful and UCL decided to run a press released when the first paper on this work was published. Although the work itself has been mostly funded by the Wellcome Trust, the seeds of the technology were developed through EPSRC funding, and its future directions are explored as part of our Prosperity Partnership with Nikon (which was also our partner in the Wellcome Trust grant). A partial list of media outlets which have run pieces on our technology includes:

https://www.caperay.com/blog/index.php/2021/phase-contrast-imaging-and-breast-surgery/

https://www.diagnosticimaging.com/view/new-x-ray-scanner-could-reduce-repeat-breast-conserving-operations


https://www.theengineer.co.uk/new-x-ray-scanner-could-improve-breast-cancer-surgery/


https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-02-advances-x-ray-imaging-patients-breast.html

https://www.itnonline.com/content/advances-x-ray-imaging-can-help-patients-breast-cancer

https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2021/02/x-ray-scanner-could-improve-breast-cancer-surgery/.

https://www.theimagingwire.com/2021/02/22/ai-guided-milestone-watson-options-the-unmatched/

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-02/ucl-aix021721.php


https://scienmag.com/advances-in-x-ray-imaging-can-help-patients-with-breast-cancer/

https://infosurhoy.com/health/advances-in-x-ray-imaging-can-help-patients-with-breast-cancer.html
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2021/feb/advances-x-ray-imaging-can-help-patients-breast-cancer
 
Description UCL Physics and Engineering in Medicine Podcast "How to advance x-ray imaging, seeing the unseen" 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact A blog explaining teh developed technology and its applications in lay terms
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://soundcloud.com/user-857709813/5-how-to-advance-x-ray-imaging-seeing-the-unseen
 
Description press release on ehnanced detection of threat materials using phase-based x-ray imaging 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact UCL run a press release on our Nature Communication paper on ehnanced detection of threat object using phase-based x-ray imaging. Even before this was issued, the Academic PI Prof A Olivo had been interviewed by a number of media outlets, and several media worldwide were starting to report the story. Through our limited ability to track coverage we have seen that well over 150 news outlet worldwide had picked up this story, including major one such as the Observer, the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. It was the 3rd most reported article by Nature Communications for several weeks and Springer Nature posted a separate press release on it to highlight this.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2022/sep/explosives-detection-improved-new-x-ray-technique