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Chewing Gum Sized X-Ray Source Developed

Scott Kovaleski, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and his team of researchers at University of Missouri have developed a chewing gum sized, compact radiation source that is capable of producing X-rays and various other forms of radiation. The radiation source uses a crystal of lithium niobate which stores energy in a longitudinally vibrating mechanical wave and output energy is extracted in form of a high-voltage electron beam using a field-emission diode mounted on the surface of the crystal. This electron beam produces X-rays via bremsstrahlung interactions with a metallic surface. The researchers have stated that the device is capable of producing 100,000 volts of electrical energy with a meager input voltage of 10 volts. This innovation is sure to revolutionize medical care as the team expects a hand-held X-ray scanner prototype built by this technology to arrive within three years.

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The device can make way for portable scanners that can be used by security personnel to search for hidden contraband. Thanks to its low power consumption, these sensors could soon make their way to interplanetary probes. According the Kovaleski, the device is perfectly harmless until energised and when it is on, it causes relatively low exposures to radiation which makes this innovation a safer alternative for radioisotopes that are used for industrial and scientific purposes.

For detailed information about their work, readers can refer to their paper published in IEEE Transaction on Plasma Science.

Source: University of Missouri

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