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Publication numberUS20060256917 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/431,217
Publication dateNov 16, 2006
Filing dateMay 10, 2006
Priority dateMay 11, 2005
Also published asUS7130374
Publication number11431217, 431217, US 2006/0256917 A1, US 2006/256917 A1, US 20060256917 A1, US 20060256917A1, US 2006256917 A1, US 2006256917A1, US-A1-20060256917, US-A1-2006256917, US2006/0256917A1, US2006/256917A1, US20060256917 A1, US20060256917A1, US2006256917 A1, US2006256917A1
InventorsAlan Jacobs, Edward Dugan
Original AssigneeUniversity Of Florida Research Foundation, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Snapshot backscatter radiography (sbr) systems including system having dynamic collimation
US 20060256917 A1
Abstract
A snapshot backscatter radiography (SBR) system and related method includes at least one penetrating radiation source, and at least one substantially transmissive radiation detector. The substantially transmissive radiation detector is interposed between an object region to be interrogated and the radiation source. The substantially transmissive radiation detector receives and detects forward radiation from the radiation source before transmitting a portion thereof to interrogate the object region, wherein a portion of backscattered radiation provided by the object region is detected by the detector. A changeable collimating grid having a plurality of spaced apart radiation absorbing features is coupled to structure changing a position of the plurality of features and is disposed in at least one of the path of the forward radiation and the path of the backscattered radiation. An image of the object can be obtained by subtracting the forward radiation detected at the detector, or an estimate thereof, from a total of all radiation detected by the detector. Integrated circuit inspection, land mine detection, and luggage or cargo screening systems can all be SBR based.
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Claims(20)
1. A snapshot backscatter radiography (SBR) system having dynamic collimation, comprising:
at least one penetrating radiation source;
at least one substantially transmissive radiation detector, wherein said substantially transmissive radiation detector is interposed between an object region to be interrogated and said radiation source, said substantially transmissive radiation detector receiving and detecting forward radiation from said radiation source before transmitting a portion thereof to interrogate said object region, wherein a portion of backscattered radiation from said object region is detected by said detector, and
at least one changeable collimating grid having a plurality of spaced apart features coupled to structure for changing a position of said plurality of features, said changeable collimating grid being in a path of said forward radiation or a path of said backscattered radiation.
2. The system of claim 1, wherein said at least one changeable collimating grid comprises a first collimation grid for illumination disposed between said radiation source and said object region and a second collimating grid for selective detection disposed between said object region and said detector.
3. The system of claim 2, wherein said structure for changing comprises structure for dynamically and automatically changing, said structure for dynamically and automatically changing comprising a first motorized drive system coupled to said collimating grid for illumination and a second motorized drive system coupled to said collimating grid for selective detection.
4. The system of claim 3, wherein said second motorized drive system coupled to features comprising said collimating grid for selective detection includes structure for providing rotation about an axis normal to an illumination plane said object region.
5. The system of claim 1, wherein said detector comprises a digitizing field screen.
6. The system of claim 1, further comprising a computer or processor for receiving radiation data from said detector and for performing data and image processing.
7. The system of claim 1, wherein said detector comprises a photostimuable phosphorous-based image plate.
8. The system of claim 1, wherein said detector comprises a photostimuable phosphorous-based image plate, TFT-based flat panel detector, or an amorphous silicon panel.
9. A snapshot backscatter radiography (SBR) method for imaging objects, comprising the steps of:
directing penetrating forward radiation through a detector to an object region to be interrogated, said detector receiving and detecting forward radiation from said radiation source before transmitting a portion thereof to interrogate said object region, wherein said object region provides backscattered radiation toward said detector;
varying an orientation of said penetrating radiation relative to said object region or a selectivity of said detector to said backscattered radiation while performing said imaging to provide a plurality of different snapshot measurements, and
generating an image of said object region from said plurality of snapshot measurements.
10. The method of claim 9, wherein said orientation of said penetrating radiation relative to said object region and said selectivity of said detector to said backscattered radiation are both varied during said imaging.
11. The method of claim 10, wherein said orientation of said penetrating radiation relative to said object region and said selectivity of said detector to said backscattered radiation are varied using a changeable collimating grid for illumination disposed between said radiation source and said detector and a changeable collimating grid for selective detection disposed between said object region and said detector, respectively.
12. The method of claim 11, wherein said varied orientation of said changeable collimating grid for selective detection comprises rotation about an axis normal to an illumination plane said object region.
13. The method of claim 9, wherein said forward radiation comprises multiple bursts at varying radiation energy, said method further comprising the step of forming a 3-D image of said object.
14. The method of claim 9, further comprising the step of applying a deconvolving image enhancement technique to reduce image blurring.
15. The method of claim 9, wherein said image is formed by subtracting said forward radiation detected at said detector or an estimate of said forward radiation detected at said detector from all radiation detected by said detector.
16. The method of claim 9, wherein said image is formed by subtracting normalized forward radiation data detected at said detector, or an estimate thereof, from said backscatter radiation detected by said detector.
17. A snapshot backscatter radiography (SBR) system, comprising:
at least one penetrating radiation source, and
at least one substantially transmissive radiation detector, wherein said substantially transmissive radiation detector is interposed between an object to be interrogated and said radiation source, said substantially transmissive radiation detector receiving and detecting forward radiation from said radiation source before transmitting a portion thereof to interrogate said object, a portion of said transmitted portion backscattered by said object as backscattered radiation, said backscattered radiation detected by said detector.
18. The system of claim 17, wherein said detector comprises a photostimuable phosphorous-based image plate, TFT-based flat panel detector, or an amorphous silicon panel.
19. The system of claim 17, further comprising at least one collimating grid having a plurality of spaced apart features, said changeable collimating grid being in a path of said forward radiation or a path of said backscattered radiation.
20. The system of claim 19, further comprising structure for dynamically and automatically changing a position of said plurality of features, wherein said collimating grid comprises a changeable collimating grid.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/679,911 entitled “SNAPSHOT BACKSCATTER RADIOGRAPHY (SBR) SYSTEMS INCLUDING SYSTEM HAVING DYNAMIC COLLIMATION” filed on May 11, 2005, the entirety of which is incorporated herein by reference.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. N00173-03-P-6904 between the Naval Research Laboratory and the University of Florida.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to radiography, and more particularly to radiography systems which combine aspects of both transmission and backscatter radiography, and methods thereof.

BACKGROUND

In many industrial, military, security or medical applications, images of the internal structure of objects is required. Radiography is often used for imaging. Radiography generally comprises either conventional transmission radiography or backscatter radiography.

FIG. 1 is a schematic illustrating the configuration used for conventional transmission radiography. In conventional radiography, an image is formed by transmitting radiation from a radiation generator 105 through an internal detail 110 within object 130. Attenuated radiation is received by a radiation detector 115 which is disposed on the side of the object opposite to that of the radiation generator 105. In the case of tomography, the object 130 is generally rotated about axis perpendicular to the plane of the figure.

FIG. 2 is a schematic illustrating the configuration used for backscatter radiography. Unlike conventional radiography which relies on transmission, in backscatter radiography radiation is scattered by internal detail 210 within object 230. In backscatter radiography, the radiation generator 205 and radiation detector 215 are on the same side of the object 230. All backscatter radiography techniques allow one-sided imaging of the object since the radiation generator 205 and the radiation detector 215 are located on the same side of the object 230. This is the same imaging configuration that people and animals use for optical viewing of the surroundings. Because of the absence of a refraction process for the penetrating radiation in backscatter radiography, image-gathering lenses cannot be used.

In backscatter radiography, illumination of an entire region of the object to be interrogated in a single snapshot has generally only been possible using a pinhole, coded aperture, or a restriction positioned between the object and the radiation detector. This generally results in either extremely inefficient sensing of the radiation, or the introduction of substantial image-obscuring structured noise, thus requiring large exposure times for typical radiation sources. An alternative includes use of a scanning pencil or fan beam for illuminating a temporal sequence of points or lines on the object surface. This also yields long exposure times and decoding algorithms having long calculation times, besides requiring an expensive scanning apparatus.

The equivalent of an optical snapshot camera capable of implementation using relatively inexpensive components which would provide high image resolution and a short exposure time would be desirable for applications which require one-sided imaging of the internal structure of objects.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A snapshot backscatter radiography (SBR) system and related method includes at least one penetrating radiation source and at least one substantially transmissive radiation detector. The substantially transmissive radiation detector is interposed between the object region to be interrogated and the radiation source. The substantially transmissive radiation detector detects and transmits a portion of forward radiation received from the radiation source to the object region. As used herein a “substantially transmissive radiation detector” refers to transmission of a least 20%, and preferably at least 50%, and preferably at least 60%, 70% 80% or higher of the forward radiation from the radiation source. The object region backscatters at least a portion of the radiation it receives, with a portion of the backscattered radiation being detected by the detector.

Generally, reference (base) radiation data is obtained by using the system without the object present in a low backscatter environment. The base data is then preferably stored prior to interrogating the object. The base data can then be subtracted from the total radiation data measured by the detector which includes information from both the detector structure and spatial variation of the radiation source field, as well as the object structure. This permits generation of an image of the object region. The system can interrogate a wide variety of objects or volumes, such as buried or otherwise unobservable volumes suspected of containing a bomb (e.g. landmine), luggage or cargo, or integrated circuits.

The penetrating radiation source can comprise an x-ray, gamma ray, neutron or an electron beam source. The detector can comprise a photostimuable phosphorous-based image plate, TFT-based flat panel detector, or an amorphous silicon panel. The detector can also include a digitizing field screen. The system preferably includes a computer for receiving radiation data from the detector and for performing data and image processing

A radiation source controller is also preferably provided. The radiation source controller can permit the system to produce 3 dimensional (3-D) radiation data which permits the generation of a 3-D image of the object. For example, the radiation source controller can direct the radiation source to provide multiple bursts at varying radiation energy or temporal variation of a radiation energy spectrum.

The system can also include one or more collimator grids disposed between the object region and the detector. Collimating grids can be used to improve resolution or help isolate a lateral migration component of the backscattered radiation. The invention also includes an embodiment having dynamic collimators which can further improve measurement sensitivity.

A snapshot backscatter radiography (SBR) based land mine detection system includes at least one penetrating radiation source and at least one substantially transmissive radiation detector, wherein the substantially transmissive radiation detector is interposed between a volume of earth to be interrogated and the radiation source. The substantially transmissive radiation detector detects and transmits a portion of incident forward radiation from the radiation source to an object buried in the volume of earth, wherein a portion of radiation scattered by the object is detected by the detector. The radiation source preferably comprises an x-ray source. The radiography system can include a vehicle to add mobility to the system.

The invention can also be used for luggage or cargo screening, or as an integrated circuit inspection tool. In the case of the integrated circuit inspection tool the detector can comprise a CCD array detector. In a preferred embodiment the penetrating radiation source provides selectable radiation energy. This permits generation of a 3-D image of the object interrogated to be obtained without physically scanning the system or the object by compiling radiation data at a plurality of radiation energies.

A snapshot backscatter radiography (SBR) method for imaging an object includes the steps of directing penetrating forward radiation through a detector to an object to be interrogated, the detector transmitting a portion of the penetrating radiation to the object, wherein the object backscatters radiation toward the detector. By processing the radiation data collected by the detector an image of the object can be generated. When at least one collimating sheet is disposed between the object and the detector, the method can include the step of collimating the forward radiation and/or the backscattered radiation. A deconvolving image enhancement technique can in addition be applied to reduce image blurring.

In another embodiment of the invention, a snapshot backscatter radiography (SBR) system having dynamic collimators is provided. The system includes at least one penetrating radiation source, and at least one substantially transmissive radiation detector, wherein the substantially transmissive radiation detector is interposed between an object region to be interrogated and the radiation source. The substantially transmissive radiation detector receives and detects forward radiation from the radiation source before transmitting a portion thereof to interrogate the object region. A portion of backscattered radiation from the object region is detected by the detector. At least one dynamically changeable collimating grid having a plurality of spaced apart features is provided. The dynamically changeable collimating grid is disposed in a path of at least one, and preferably both, the path of the forward radiation (collimation grid for illumination) and the path of the backscattered radiation (collimating grid for selective detection). Computer controlled motorized drive systems can be coupled to the collimating grids to control the movement of the grid features during system operation. Feature movements are preferably independent.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A fuller understanding of the present invention and the features and benefits thereof will be accomplished upon review of the following detailed description together with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a schematic illustrating the configuration used for conventional transmission radiography.

FIG. 2 is a schematic illustrating the configuration used for conventional backscatter radiography.

FIG. 3 is a schematic illustrating the configuration used for snapshot backscatter radiography, according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4 is schematic illustrating an alternate SBR configuration including fixed collimators which emphasize the lateral migration signal component of the backscatter radiation signal, according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 5 is a schematic illustrating another SBR configuration which includes dynamically changeable collimators for temporally varying the orientation of the illumination beam and the detection selectivity of the substantially transmissive radiation detector, according to an embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

A snapshot backscatter radiography (SBR) system and related method includes at least one penetrating radiation source, and at least one substantially transmissive radiation detector. The substantially transmissive radiation detector is interposed between the object to be interrogated and the radiation source so that the substantially transmissive radiation detector receives and detects forward radiation from the radiation source before transmitting a portion thereof to the object to be interrogated. The object backscatters a portion of the transmitted radiation. A portion of the backscattered radiation is detected by the detector. An image of the object can be obtained by subtracting the incident radiation data, or an estimate thereof, from the total detector data collected. Alternatively, an image of the object can be obtained by subtracting suitably normalized radiation data, or an estimate thereof, from the backscatter data collected by the detector.

FIG. 3 is a schematic illustrating a system configuration which can be used for snapshot backscatter radiography (SBR), according to an embodiment of the invention. A snapshot backscatter radiography (SBR) system 300 includes at least one penetrating radiation source 310 and at least one substantially transmissive radiation detector 320, such as a flexible detector sheet. The SBR system 300 can be configured using commercially available radiation generators and detectors. Similar to backscatter radiography, both the radiation source 310 and the substantially transmissive radiation detector 320 are disposed on the same side of the object 330 which includes internal detail 332. The surface of the object or the surface of the medium covering the object, such as the earth, is indicated as reference 335.

System 300 can include a radiation source controller 350 and computer 360. Computer 360 preferably includes memory and provides various system functions, such as producing data representing an image of the object interrogated based on radiation data detected by detector 320. A display screen 380 for representing an image of the object interrogated is also preferably provided.

The substantially transmissive radiation detector 320 is preferably a digitizing substantially transmissive radiation detector-film screen. In this embodiment, computer 350 has at least modest speed and data storage capacity for data processing and driving display 380.

Using the invention, two-dimensional (2D) or three-dimensional (3D) data sufficient to generate an image of the internal structure of objects capable of scattering a portion of incident radiation is acquired in a snapshot illumination of an interrogated area of the object surface. Image data for 2D back-projections can be acquired in a single radiation generator/source burst.

Image data for a 3D display can be acquired if a temporal sequence of data sets is obtained at varying x-ray generator voltages. Higher voltages produce higher energy radiation which penetrates correspondingly deeper into the object. The idea of photon spectrum tomography (Towe & Jacobs, X-ray Backscatter Imaging, IEEE Trans., on Biomed.-Engr., BME-28, p. 646-650, 1981) can be exploited to create a 3D image of the interrogated object internal structure. A pulsed radiation (e.g. x-ray) generator with a significant photon energy spectrum variation over the pulse duration provides a useful method of obtaining such information in a single photon source pulse. In this embodiment, the temporal resolution of the detector would need to be sufficient to acquire this 3D image data in a single pulse. Otherwise, temporal gating could be employed for a sequence of generator pulses.

System 300 is generally contained in a protective and supportive housing 345, which is preferably made from aluminum, or other suitable lightweight materials. Housing 345 holds the various components of system 300 in place. Lightweight housing materials facilitate portability of system 300, which can be advantageous in certain applications. The front of housing 390 as well as detector 320 (e.g. a thin sheet) are both preferably made from flexible materials to conform to a variety of desired shapes.

The spacing of detector 320 from source 310 generally depends on the area to be illuminated. For most wide area applications, the spacing from source 310 to detector 320 is generally about the same order of magnitude as the length of detector 320.

The arrangement shown in FIG. 3 implies that the radiation/object interactions of primary consequence are scatterings, although absorption can also be significant. Radiation from the radiation source 310, shown by reference 315, is directed at detector 320 which detects forward radiation 315. This detected radiation pattern is referred to herein as the first-pass data. The detected first-pass data includes information on the spatial variations of the illumination radiation field and the spatial variation of structure and sensitivity of the detector 320.

Substantially transmissive radiation detector 320 transmits a portion of the forward radiation received, shown as reference 325, which penetrates surface 335 and strikes internal detail 332 of object 330. The detector medium is generally a detector sheet which provides an area which is at least equal to the illumination area provided by radiation source 310.

The internal detail 332 of object 330 then backscatters a portion of the transmitted radiation 325, shown as reference 355. Preferably, object 330 scatters (reflects) at least 5 to 30% of the illuminating field provided by radiation source 310. For example, a portion of radiation 325 is transmitted through object 330 and is identified in FIG. 3 as transmitted radiation 365. Substantially transmissive-radiation detector 320 detects some of the backscattered radiation portion 355, the backscattered radiation pattern referred to herein as the second-pass data. Thus, the second-pass data is generated by the backscattered radiation field 355 which emerges from the object or other surface 335 after being scattered by the internal structure of object 330. Data to obtain the desired image of the object can be computed by subtracting the first pass data, or an estimate thereof, from the total detector data measured which comprises the sum of the first and second pass radiation data which includes information on the spatial variations of the radiation field and structure of the detector as well as information on the object structure. Alternatively, the desired image can be obtained by subtracting suitably normalized incident (first-pass) radiation data, or estimate thereof, from the backscatter data collected by the detector.

Assuming the detector medium transmission is >80%, and object medium reflection >50%, results in an object internal intensity of >40% of the first-pass intensity. Under these conditions, about 8% of the photons 315 are used to provide data to create the desired image of object 330. This calculation assumes that the energy of the photons are unchanged throughout the process. However, backscatter radiation energy is somewhat lower than transmitted radiation 325, which is itself less than forward radiation 315. Lower backscatter radiation energy can either enhance or decrease the level of the detected backscattered radiation field signal 355 depending on the object and the detector composition.

The SBR method can utilize the steps of digitization of the radiation data received by detector 320. A digital image of the object 330 can then be obtained and displayed on screen 380 through simple data manipulation, such as by computer 360. Digitization also permits digital image enhancement techniques to be applied to the radiation data.

Radiation source 310 can generally be any penetrating radiation source. Radiation source 310 preferably illuminates the entire area to be interrogated. For example, radiation source 310 can comprise an x-ray source, gamma ray source, neutron source or electron beam source. The radiation source 310 is controlled to provide a photon illumination (energy) spectrum averaged optical depth in object 330 to reach the deepest structure detail desired in the image to be about unity (i.e., one x-ray mean-free-path). In the case of an x-ray source, the generator voltage is chosen to provide the desired photon illumination (energy) spectrum. In addition, the radiation intensity provided by radiation source 310 preferably is sufficiently low so as to not saturate detector 320.

Generally, first pass reference (base) data is obtained without object 330 and is stored, such as in memory provided by computer 360, prior to interrogating object 330. To minimize drift, it is preferred the base data be updated periodically, such as every day or two, or upon a change of configuration, or a change in source energy. Since only a transmitted reference image is desired, the base radiation data is preferably acquired in an environment which does not backscatter significant radiation back to detector 320. For example, a perfect absorbing medium would be ideal. In practice, an empty room may provide a low backscatter environment. The base radiation data can then be subtracted from the overall radiation detected which includes information from both the detector structure and the spatial variation of the radiation source field as well as the object structure to provide data which permits generation of the desired image of object 330.

A system 400 including optional collimating grids 415 and 445 is shown in FIG. 4. As used herein, the phrase “collimating grid” or “collimator grid” refers to a structure used to filter a stream of rays (such as X-rays) so that only those travelling parallel to each other in a certain direction are allowed through. The collimating grids comprise a plurality of radiation absorbing features. The features can be various geometries including fins, slats, screens or plates, and be curvilinear or flat. Regions between respective features are referred to herein as “slits”. In a conventional configuration, the collimator features are oriented essentially perpendicular to the surface of detector 420. The collimating grid enhances the Compton backscatter imaging (CBI) process for photons which experience increased migration along directions perpendicular to the illumination direction, such as along the imaged plane in SBR. This data acquisition variant can be helpful for the detection and imaging of small, lateral material structure or defects along planes parallel to the object surface, such as feature 455, including small diameter channels, or thin, delaminated regions which are parallel to an object surface. Conventionally applied collimators can also be used to improve image resolution by limiting beam spot size, but generally also increase measurement time.

System 400 includes collimator 415 disposed between the radiation source 410 and the substantially transmissive radiation detector 420 which functions as a shutter by blocking transmission of the forward radiation beam 465 over a portion of the area of detector 420. The beam transmitted through detector 420 is identified as reference 485. Housing 490 is also provided.

The object (or volume interrogated) 430 shown includes a crack or other void, which provides an airspace 455. Object 430 is shown buried in a medium having a surface 435. The object/medium arrangement is essentially analogous to the arrangement when a land mine is buried in the earth. Land mines are known to include air gaps to permit the fuse mechanism to function properly and to provide directional blasts.

Radiation reflected from object 430 is indicated as backscatter beam 475. Airspace 455 permits significantly enhanced lateral migration of radiation along its length. This lateral enhancement results in a larger percentage of radiation transmitted through detector 420 to fit between laterally positioned adjacent collimator plates and reach detector 420 for detection as compared to when object 430 does not include airspace 455. Thus, when the region being interrogated does not include any measurable airspace 455, the signal detected by detector 420 will be significantly less as compared to when object 430 include airspace 455. Thus, system 400 can be used to identify structures such as landmines, delaminations and other structures which provide significant air spaces.

When the orientation of certain types of internal structure detail in an object region is substantially unknown and includes some highly unexpected features, a fixed illumination and detection system may not provide the data necessary to identify potentially important feature details. In this situation, improved feature resolution can be obtained by accumulating image data over a series of illuminations wherein at least one, and preferably both, the orientation (e.g. angle) of the illuminating beam relative to the object region and the detection selectivity of backscattered radiation provided by the detector are changed during the measurement. For example, if an object in an object region contains internal void channels of unknown direction and location and a detection system having a grid pattern which emphasizes detector response to lateral migration of the employed penetrating radiation according to the invention is used, then a more complete integrated image of the channels can generally be obtained by processing data from a series of illuminating snapshots at several angles.

In this embodiment of the invention, the orientation of the illuminating beam and detection selectivity of backscattered radiation can be changed using collimator grids having a plurality of spaced apart radiation absorbing features, wherein an orientation of the features comprising the grids is adjustable. The features are formed from radiation absorbing materials, such as lead together with a low Z (and/or low density) material such as carbon fiber or aluminum. The positional change(s) of the features is preferably automatic and dynamic, such as through computer controlled motor drives as explained below. The angular-rotation speed of the features is preferably sufficiently fast so that image accumulation during the movement interval can be ignored.

By using a changeable collimator grid to alter the orientation of the illumination beam to provide illumination at several angles, the radiation source can remain in a fixed position. However, although generally not preferred, the radiation source can be scanned to provide a changeable orientation of the illumination beam. Similarly, by moving the grid pattern formed by the plurality of features of the changeable collimating grid, changeable detection selectivity can be provided. For example, a changeable detector response can be provided by rotating the changeable collimating grid for detection selectivity about an axis normal to the object illumination plane.

FIG. 5 is schematic illustrating a SBR configuration which includes dynamically changeable collimators for temporally varying the orientation of the illumination beam and the detection selectivity of the substantially transmissive radiation detector, respectively, according to an embodiment of the invention. System 500 is similar to system 400 shown in FIG. 4, except collimator grids 415 and 455 are replaced by dynamically changeable collimating grids 515 and 545, respectively. Changeable collimator grid 515 provides a changeable orientation of the illuminating beam and changeable collimating grid 545 permits changing the detection selectivity of backscattered radiation received by detector 420. Other like features in system 500 are numbered alike as the equivalent features shown in system 400 in FIG. 4.

The grids 515 and 545 comprise a series of radiation absorbing features 516. The features rotate. In one exemplary embodiment, the features can be in one of two (2) positions, in an “open” position when aligned with a surface normal drawn from the surface of detector 420, and a “closed” position when oriented parallel to the surface of detector 420. As noted above, open regions between respective features 516 are referred to herein as “slits”. Thus, grids 515 and 545 can include analogous structure and function analogously to “venetian blinds” regarding opening and closing, except individual features 516 comprising grids according to the invention are independently moveable. A computer or processor 560 controls motor controls 565 and 575 which comprise an exemplary structure for dynamically and automatically changing the position of the plurality of features 516 provided by collimating grids 515 and 545, respectively. Features 516 are preferably independently moveable. For the case in which feature 516 are independently movable, each feature 516 can have its own independent motor control or independent electronic (e.g. solenoid) switch or magnetic actuator control instead of functioning collectively, analogously to “Venetian blinds,” using one or two controllers. Preferably, the grid features 516 are all the same width, d, and the feature rotation-axes of each grid are also all separated by distance d.

The feature rotation angles of the collimator grids 515 and 555 are conveniently measured relative to the normal vector drawn from the surface of the detector 420. Thus, if all the feature rotation angles of a given grid are at 0 degrees, the collimator grid is in the configuration provided by a conventional finned-collimator with features oriented perpendicular to the detector plane, such as collimators 415 and 445 shown in FIG. 4. When the feature rotation angles of all features 516 comprising grids 515 and 545 are at 90 degrees, the collimator grids become plane absorbers completely covering the upper and lower surface of detector 420, respectively.

It is generally possible to improve image quality by eliminating image acquisition during movement intervals. However, currently available radiation sources require significant times to start up and equilibrate. As a result, to allow rapid image acquisition, the radiation beam is left on during substantially the entire measurement period. As noted above, the angular-rotation speed of the features 516 in grids 515 and 545 is sufficiently fast so that image accumulation during the movement interval can be ignored in the overall images acquired. However, in another embodiment of the invention, structure is provided to gate the illumination beam during the movement interval. A rotating structure that is synchronized to block the transmission of the illumination beam during the movement period is one such embodiment. Should a suitable radiation source become available that can be switched rapidly on and off, such a source can permit image acquisition to exclude the movement period without the need for a beam gating structure.

Collimator 515 provides the ability to sequentially acquire a series of spatially varying illuminated lines (e.g. angles) in coordination with collimator 545 which permits a different series of line penetrations to reach detector 420. Thus, collimator grid 515 functions as a dynamic “shutter” which is in temporal coordination with collimator 545 which provides a dynamically changeable selectivity.

Collimator 515 blocks transmission of the forward radiation beam 465 over a portion of the area of detector 420. Movement of features comprising collimator 515 changes the orientation of illuminating beam incident on object volume 430. As noted above, by using a changeable grid to alter the orientation of the illumination, the radiation source 410 can remain in a fixed position. However, although generally not preferred, the radiation source 410 can be scanned to provide a changeable orientation of the illumination beam.

Collimator 545 enhances the Compton backscatter imaging (CBI) process for photons which experience increased migration along directions whether parallel, perpendicular or angles in between relative to the illumination direction, such as along the imaged plane in SBR and is particularly useful if an object in an object region contains internal void channels of unknown direction and location. Using changeable collimator 545 which provides a plurality of different grid patterns which emphasize detector response to different migration paths of the employed penetrating radiation used, a substantially more complete image of the channels will be possible using a series of illuminating snapshots at several angles to show images of all channels in the integrated image acquired. This data acquisition variant can be helpful for the detection and imaging of highly unexpected small, material structure or defects wherever they may be in an object region to be analyzed. Unlike fixed collimation lateral migration radiography (LMR) arrangements, radiography systems according to the invention having dynamic collimation are not limited to detection of lateral structures or defects lying in planes parallel or substantially parallel to the object surface, such as feature 455. For example, systems according to the invention can also identify structural features lying substantial normal to the surface of the object region.

A computer or processor 560 controls motor controls 565 and 575 which dynamically and automatically changes the position of the plurality of features 516 provided by collimating grids 515 and 545, respectively. Features 516 are preferably independently moveable. Generally, open slit positions will be equally spaced in the collimator grid as explained below. Motor controls 565 and 575 move features 516 based on computer control. Movement can be mechanical driven as shown, or alternatively, using electronic (e.g. solenoid) switches, or magnetic actuation such as when features 516 comprise magnetic materials (e.g. Fe comprising).

For system 500 shown in FIG. 5, the designation of system 500 being a “snapshot” system remains appropriate in that dynamics provided by collimator 515 and 545 occur during a continuous illumination of the object region being imaged. The detector integrates the acquired image continuously during the snapshot illumination. The arrangement shown in FIG. 5 is not a “scanning” modality in that the assignment of pixel coordinates is by detector image acquisition coordinates, not by illumination beam position coordinates. The operation of system 500 is distinct from CT, which also views objects in a series of orientations, but for the entirely different purpose of eliminating the confusion inherent in conventional projection radiography.

SBR is well suited to planar object interrogation of surfaces for both placement of the detector and interpretation of the scattered radiation produced image. Independent of the flexibility of the detector medium, it is estimated that SBR can provide useful images of internal structure details of objects if the image size dimension is less than about one-third the radius-of-curvature of the interrogated region object surface. If the detector (e.g. film) is sufficiently flexible to conform to the object surface, this limit should increase to about one-half, or more, depending on the distance to the radiation (e.g. x-ray) generator focal spot from the object surface.

Radiography applications, wherein internal structure near the surface of an object is to be imaged, can benefit significantly from the backscatter point of view provided by SBR. However, unlike backscatter radiography, the substantially transmissive radiation detector 320/420 is disposed in the radiation path so that the radiation which reaches the object 330/430 first passes through the substantially transmissive radiation detector 320/420. Disposing the detector 320/420 in the forward radiation path as shown in FIGS. 3-5 where it detects forward radiation provides certain advantages. In particular, the ability to provide a snapshot image of object 330/430 without the need for mechanical scanning of the radiation source or object rotation.

The temporal history of radiation in SBR is unlike either conventional transmission radiography or conventional backscatter radiography. Source generation of penetrating radiation results in a first-pass through detector 320/420. This step is not provided in either conventional transmission radiography or backscatter radiography. Interaction with internal structure of object 330/430 produces reflective scattering which results in a second-pass through substantially transmissive radiation detector 320/420. This step is similar to conventional backscatter radiography, although the radiation incident on the object is transmitted through the substantially transmissive radiation detector in SBR, whereas the radiation incident on the object is provided directly from the radiation source in conventional backscatter radiography.

A variety of image detection technologies can be used with the invention. The detector 320 generally needs to store base image data. The detector needs to permit significant radiation to be transmitted therethrough. The detector 320/420 also needs to be capable of receiving multiple images, i.e., be reusable with a minimum of drift.

For example, in the case of x-ray radiography where a large area image is desired, there are at least two available x-ray detector technologies which can be used with the invention. The photostimuable phosphor-based imaging plate (commonly referred to as computed radiography, or CR), as well as an amorphous silicon panel (ASP) conversion screen bonded to an array of photosensitive diodes.

The CR imaging medium is generally thin, uniform, and flexible. X-ray sensitivity and image spatial resolution are sufficient for most applications. Significant care must be exercised in the time between latent image acquisition and photo stimulation in the image reading process including light exclusion. As the technique is conventionally applied, there is a separate image reader device and the imaging plate (film) is transferred from the x-ray illumination device to the reader for image digitizing and display. For application of the CR method to an SBR system, it would be advantageous if image exposure, reading, digitization, and display were accomplished in the same device eliminating the physical transfer of the imaging plate in the process.

The geometric featureless quality and physical flexibility of the CR image plate imply a uniform first-pass image and easily-obtained conformity of image acquisition geometry to the object surface. These properties imply relatively straight-forward analysis of the acquired image and post-acquisition processing (e.g., subtraction of the first-pass image).

Most ASP detectors are neither thin nor homogeneous, but there are panel models where the associated amplifiers and voltage supplies are placed to the side of the imaging area. Typical panels are heavily shielded against x-ray penetration from the rear which negates the geometric necessities of the SBR system.

A major advantage of an ASP detector-film is the inherent, single-step image acquisition process. Data from a sequence of images can be acquired and stored for processing. Image differences obtained from a series of varying x-ray generator voltages can be employed to yield 3D images of internal structure. Image differences obtained from a series of x-ray generator pulses can also form the basis of analysis of the dynamic response of internal structure, such as suggested in the development of dynamic radiography (Kenney & Jacobs, Research Techniques in Nondestructive Testing, Chapter 6, p. 217-243, Edited by Sharpe, Academic Press, 1977). With sufficient temporal resolution of the panel, a single x-ray generator pulse with time-varying spectrum can be employed to efficiently acquire data for either of these applications.

CCD or other chip-based detectors may also be use with the invention in applications where a large area image is not required. Chip based detectors are generally useful when the area to be interrogated is relatively small, such as on the order of several μms, tens of μms, or hundreds of μms, such as a region on an integrated circuit. Thin film transistor arrays (TFT-arrays), may also be used with the invention.

The equivalent of an optical snapshot camera is often desirable for many applications, but has previously only been available using conventional transmission radiography. Unlike conventional transmission radiography which uses transmitted radiation, the SBR system and method described herein advantageously enables snapshot radiography utilizing reflected radiation, for example for applications where a detector cannot be placed behind the object to be interrogated. The compact size, simple system configuration, and small time increment for image data acquisition, all contribute to efficiency accuracy and viability of many diagnostic and/or process control applications for SBR.

A clear benefit of the SBR approach is for radiography applications in which there is only one-sided access to the object. For example, scanning electron microscopes (SEM) are commonly used in integrated circuit failure analysis and some process control which requires resolution beyond that provided by standard optical inspections. One reason for common use of SEMs in integrated circuit processing is because of high image resolution compared to standard optical inspection tools. Moreover, transmission radiography is generally not possible for interrogating integrated circuits due to the presence of one or more heavily absorptive surfaces. For example, gold may coat the backside of the chip. Significantly, unlike SBR systems which can interrogate below the surface of a sample, conventional SEMs cannot interrogate regions below the surface. In addition, SBR systems are expected to be inexpensive relative to SEMs. As noted above, the SBR system can provide improved image resolution, and provide a resolution comparable to that obtainable from conventional SEMs by including one or more collimators systems to reduce the beam size as required for the desired resolution level.

The invention is also helpful where an internal structure element is difficult, or impossible, to image by conventional transmission radiography or even conventional backscatter radiography because of amplification of image contrast during the subsurface migration, such as lateral migration, of the interrogating radiation produced by SBR which can be selectively sensed by proper design of the substantially transmissive radiation detector components.

The invention is expected to have a variety of applications as it enables rapid snapshot images of an object or volume of interest and can also be a portable system. For example, the invention can be used as a land mine detection system, for either military or humanitarian use to identify buried land mines. Most buried land mines are made of predominantly plastic which makes it almost impossible to detect the mines accurately with conventional detection techniques. Using the SBR system and method, explosives and plastics reflect more photons than soil does, and scatter the photons more widely, which can create more accurate images of the mines. Rocks, wood, roots and other materials create very different images and are generally not confused with land mines using SBR.

The system can be small and lightweight, making it readily mobile. Thus, soldiers can carry an SBR system and interrogate the path in front of them before proceeding. Alternatively, landmine detectors can be mounted on a vehicle to create mobile land mine detectors.

In addition, the invention is expected to be useful for rapidly screening articles within containers, such as luggage or cargo entering airports. As compared to current x-ray based conventional transmission or backscatter scanning detectors, the invention is expected to be manufacturable at a significantly reduced cost since it does not require mechanical scanning of the object or any system scanning component. In addition, the SBR system can be portable, and provide images faster than conventional scanning systems. As noted above, the SBR system can also detect explosives, such as plastic explosives, that are generally undetectable by conventional systems used at airports.

EXAMPLE

The present invention is further illustrated by the following example. This example is provided for illustration only and is not to be construed as limiting the scope or content of the invention in any way.

SBR was tested in a single measurement which successfully imaged a high-contrast feature in an optimal configuration of an SBR system according to the invention using x-rays and a computed radiography (CR) screen detector with the associated image reader replacing the image-analyzing computer. The object (and “structure”) was a plastic block on the interrogated surface which included a small (1 cm×1 mm×0.1 mm thick) strip of lead. From the SBR image obtained the lead strip was clearly visible, with about 0.1 mm resolution being provided.

Exemplary Grid Sequencing for Snapshot Radiography Using Radiography System having Dynamic Collimators

An exemplary timing sequence of events is provided for a two dynamic collimator grid snapshot radiography system, such as system 500 shown in FIG. 5. The RSD system considered in this example is based on an identical “illumination-side” grid 515 and “object-side” grid 545 with an interposed plane integrating detector 420. The respective grid planes are both parallel to the plane of the detector 420 and are both positioned symmetrically about the normal vector passing through the plane of detector 420 at its center. Grids 515 and 545 are venetion blind-like grids as described above.

Grid feature indexing for the purpose of describing the dynamic sequencing herein uses consecutive integers and the “open” slits on either side of a given feature n are designated na and nb. For example, if the features 516 are all at 0 degrees, the contiguous open, perpendicularly collimated, slits are 1 a, 1 b/2 a, 2 b/3 a, 3 b/4 a, 4 b/5 a, etc. As a less cumbersome slit index, slit 1 a can be designated by 0, 1 b/1 a by 1, 2 b/3 a by 2, 3 b/4 a by 3, etc. The two grids 515 and 545 are aligned and indexed such that illumination slit n is aligned with object side slit n as shown in FIG. 5. Thus, if the illumination grid index is In and the object grid index is On, I1 and O1 are aligned, I2 and O2 are aligned, etc.

The object region 430 has a plane surface and the plane of detector 420 as well as the planes of both collimator grids 515 and 545 are positioned parallel to the surface of object region 430. The internal structure of interest is assumed to be a distribution of parallel, narrow void channels that are about 10 d long, where d as noted above is the width of features 516. In order to use the internal detail as a radiographic enhancement, the long dimension of the features 516 is oriented orthogonal to the direction of the void channels. It is presumed that the mean-free-path of radiation in the object material is about 5 d. The grid feature axial rotation sequence is as follows: I1,I21,I41,I61,I81, . . . ,O1,O11, O21, O31, O41, O51, . . . simultaneously at 0 degrees (open) with all other features 516 at 90 degrees (closed) for image accumulation in the first time interval T, where the subscript number represents sequentially numbered features in the respective grids moving in one direction (e.g. left-to-right) from a first end feature designated as feature 1. Note that the spacing between slits in the object-side grid 545 (10d) is set equal to the length of the narrow void channels (10d). In the second interval, I2,I22,I42,I62,I82, . . . ,O2,O12, O22,O32,O42,O52, . . . simultaneously at 0 degrees with all other features at 90 degrees is used for image accumulation. In the third interval, I3,I23,I43,I63,I83, . . . ,O3,O13,O23,O33,O43, O53, . . . at 0 degrees with other features at 90 degrees are used. This progression continues for a “snapshot” (total) time interval of nineteen intervals (19 T) to obtain image data from all the permutations given the constant slit spacing used.

In the case that the internal structure of interest is completely unknown, as is often the case, a coarse screening procedure followed by acquisition as described above can be used. In the coarse screening procedure, image data can be acquired by sampling a variety of spacing distances between slits, such as 1, 2, 3, . . . 10. The image data can be analyzed, such as based on appropriate software, to identify the spacing distance which provides the best image resolution. The spacing distance can then be used as described above to obtain image data from all the permutations given the constant slit spacing used.

Two snapshots are generally acquired. One snapshot is acquired with the object removed (i.e., the first-pass image, denoted P1). Another snapshot is acquired with the object in place (i.e., the first-pass plus backscatter image, denoted P2). The image Ps=P2−P1 is a particular backscatter image. The image Ps has two, very different contributions. One image contribution is formed by radiation scattered back through each pair of opened slits, i.e. radiation which passes through the slit sequence In-On-On. One image contribution is formed by scattered radiation which passes through slits 10d from the slits of illumination, i.e. radiation which passes through the slit sequence In-On-O(n−10,n+10). It is this last contribution which is the image of interest. It is this image wherein contrast is enhanced by radiation transport through the narrow void channels in the object which as noted above are assumed to be 10 d long. In order to separate this desired image from Is, a third “snapshot” image, P3, is acquired: The grid feature axial rotation sequence to obtain P3 is: I1,I12,I41,I61,I81, . . . , O1,O21,O41,O61,O81, . . . at 0 degrees with others at 90 degrees for interval T. I2,I22,I42,I62,I82, . . . , O2,O22,O42,O62,O82, . . . at 0 degrees with others at 90 degrees for interval T. This progression continues for interval 19T.

P=Ps−P3+P1 is the desired image of the void channels. Note that Ps=P2−P1 used in the expression for P yields P=P2−P3. Therefore, the desired image, P, can be obtained from and acquisition of only two images (P2 and P3), both with the object in place. The above, more complex, description is intended to show all the relations between the acquired images and the radiation path histories in the object for the example radiographic situation.

The above example is for demonstrating how to sequence the grid feature dynamics to develop images wherein contrast is enhanced by the transport history of the interrogation radiation in the object internal structure. Other types of internal structure detail or scale relative to the particular grid structures employed in particular applications will dictate different protocols.

It is to be understood that while the invention has been described in conjunction with the preferred specific embodiments thereof, that the foregoing description as well as the examples which follow are intended to illustrate and not limit the scope of the invention. Other aspects, advantages and modifications within the scope of the invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art to which the invention pertains.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8287187Jun 21, 2010Oct 16, 2012Miller Zachary AAdjustable dynamic X-ray filter
Classifications
U.S. Classification378/76, 378/148, 378/87
International ClassificationG01N23/203, G01N23/201, G21K1/02
Cooperative ClassificationG01N23/203
European ClassificationG01N23/203
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