Scientists and industry inventing world’s smallest X-ray system

13 Sep 2013

The Wafer Fabrication Facility lab at Tyndall National Institute in Cork, Ireland

Researchers working at Tyndall National Institute in Cork are part of a global network of scientists who are teaming up with the UK health-tech company Radius Diagnostics on future X-ray technology. Their goal is to fuse their academic-industry expertise and pioneer the world’s smallest portable X-ray system.

The project involves Radius Diagnostics, scientists from Tyndall National Institute and researchers from Harwell Oxford Campus in the UK and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Together they will be working on building on the UCLA-patented MAX (Microemitter Array X-rays) technology.

Technology transfer

Future Human

This new health-tech technology, which is believed to be two years away from being market ready, could have the scope to disrupt the medical industry globally.

For instance, if it comes to fruition, this X-ray product will be 20 times smaller and lighter than existing models, according to the researchers.

And there’s also the potential for health services to make savings when buying such an X-ray system down the line. The idea would be that such a portable X-ray system could save local health authorities up to €75,000 per machine.

ICT and X-rays

How will the X-ray technology work?

Radius Diagnostics believes the new technology will pave the way for the miniaturisation of X-ray systems responsible for 60pc of all medical imaging procedures worldwide.

The combination of reductions in weight, cost and bulk is to allow this diagnostic device to travel to the patient in the hospital, the GP’s clinic or even on an ambulance, so that images can be read remotely.

The ultimate goal seems to be to enable healthcare professionals to drive down costs and delays associated with hospital visits.

Liaising with scientists in Ireland

Mark Evans, CEO, Radius Health, said the company initially came to Tyndall National Institute because of its production-grade Wafer Fabrication Facility.

He said Radius had a specific design in mind when it started collaborating with Tyndall.

“Over the past few months, the relationship has shifted from manufacturing advisory and execution, to one of co-creation resulting in a lighter, smaller, more energy-efficient and deployable system.”


Tyndall’s expertise is ‘unrivalled in Europe’ – Radius

Evans said the scope to access the skills, production quality and economies of scale offered by Tyndall are being “unrivalled in Europe” and has enabled the company to speed up its time to market.

Speaking today, Dr Paul Galvin, who heads up the Life Sciences Interface Group at Tyndall, described Radius Diagnostics as being at the forefront of “redefining” X-ray radiology.

He said Tyndall was delighted to have been chosen as its development partner. Tyndall has already developed the emitter device that will be used in this X-ray system.

Over the next two years, Tyndall’s researchers will lend their expertise in integrated technology solutions to make Radius’ X-ray vision a reality.

The research, Galvin said, will aim to develop a next-generation X-ray product for the medical-imaging market, which could potentially be worth up to €2bn annually.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic