Making Sure X Rays Hit Their Target

X-rays have been in use for nearly a century, but the technology has shortcomings. Unlike ordinary light, the beams can't be easily focused or directed with lenses and mirrors. So physicians often need to use higher dosages to get a clear picture. X-ray Optical Systems Inc., a tiny company based in Albany, N.Y., is developing an innovative technology that provides better X-ray control.

Invented by Russian physicist Muradin Kumakhov, this approach channels X-ray beams through thousands of tiny, hollow glass capillaries arranged in a strong but flexible honeycomb-like bundle. As a result, the beam can be precisely directed to a small spot. The system will give higher resolution with less radiation, says David Gibson, president of XOS.

Initially, Gibson says the technology will be used for soft-tissue imaging such as mammography and angiography, where better resolution is needed. Future applications may include irradiation of tumors, industrial inspection, and X-ray lithography for making high-density integrated circuits.

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