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News / October 12, 2010

Dental X-ray camera goes space age

by Guy Hiscott

Space-age technology has been incorporated into a new tool for dentists that may make a trip to the surgery less painful for patients.

The dental instrument is a small, high-resolution X-ray camera capable of imaging what goes on inside teeth with a minimal amount of effort – and a minimum amount of discomfort to patients.
Swedish company, Nanospace, is responsible for developing the new approach to healthcare and the Scint-X company desigend the camera.

With this new approach, the images obtained are substantially more detailed than possible with similar instruments and offer increased contrast.

At the very core of the instrument is a miniaturised device called a structured scintillator that converts X-rays into visible light.

Scint-X expert Per Wiklund  says: ‘Our scintillator uses a specially structured silicon substrate and with this unique and patented manufacturing technique we can obtain substantially higher resolution than currently on the market today.’

As the unit is a lot thinner and generally smaller than other devices, the amount of discomfort for the patient is reduced.

The scintillator design that Scint-X proposed was handed over to Nanospace, which engineered the device with precision at its micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) facility.

CEO of Nanospace, Tor-Arne Grönland, says: ‘The investment in our special machine [to produce MEMS] was entirely driven by the demand for capacity and quality in our production for space projects. Later, a number of non-space companies and research groups, such as Scint-X, have taken advantage of the processes and the capacity we now have.’

The European Space Agency (ESA) is now ‘exploring with Nanospace the limits of this emerging MEMS-based micropropulsion technology for high-accuracy propulsion applications’ she adds.

‘The synergy between space and non-space research and development, as in the case of Scint-X, illustrates the potential of technology transfer,’ the leader of the ESA Technology Transfer Program Office, Frank M Salzgeber, adds.
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