MicroCT with energy-resolved photon-counting detectors

X. Wang, D. Meier, S. Mikkelsen, G. E. Maehlum, D. J. Wagenaar, B. M.W. Tsui, B. E. Patt, E. C. Frey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The goal of this paper was to investigate the benefits that could be realistically achieved on a microCT imaging system with an energy-resolved photon-counting x-ray detector. To this end, we built and evaluated a prototype microCT system based on such a detector. The detector is based on cadmium telluride (CdTe) radiation sensors and application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) readouts. Each detector pixel can simultaneously count x-ray photons above six energy thresholds, providing the capability for energy-selective x-ray imaging. We tested the spectroscopic performance of the system using polychromatic x-ray radiation and various filtering materials with K-absorption edges. Tomographic images were then acquired of a cylindrical PMMA phantom containing holes filled with various materials. Results were also compared with those acquired using an intensity-integrating x-ray detector and single-energy (i.e. non-energy-selective) CT. This paper describes the functionality and performance of the system, and presents preliminary spectroscopic and tomographic results. The spectroscopic experiments showed that the energy-resolved photon-counting detector was capable of measuring energy spectra from polychromatic sources like a standard x-ray tube, and resolving absorption edges present in the energy range used for imaging. However, the spectral quality was degraded by spectral distortions resulting from degrading factors, including finite energy resolution and charge sharing. We developed a simple charge-sharing model to reproduce these distortions. The tomographic experiments showed that the availability of multiple energy thresholds in the photon-counting detector allowed us to simultaneously measure target-to-background contrasts in different energy ranges. Compared with single-energy CT with an integrating detector, this feature was especially useful to improve differentiation of materials with different attenuation coefficient energy dependences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2791-2816
Number of pages26
JournalPhysics in medicine and biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 7 2011


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

Cite this

Wang, X., Meier, D., Mikkelsen, S., Maehlum, G. E., Wagenaar, D. J., Tsui, B. M. W., Patt, B. E., & Frey, E. C. (2011). MicroCT with energy-resolved photon-counting detectors. Physics in medicine and biology, 56(9), 2791-2816. https://doi.org/10.1088/0031-9155/56/9/011