Multisource inverse-geometry CT. Part II. X-ray source design and prototype

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Abstract

Purpose:

This paper summarizes the development of a high-power distributed x-ray source, or “multisource,” designed for inverse-geometry computed tomography (CT) applications [see B. De Man et al., “Multisource inverse-geometry CT. Part I. System concept and development,” Med. Phys. 43, 4607–4616 (2016)]. The paper presents the evolution of the source architecture, component design (anode, emitter, beam optics, control electronics, high voltage insulator), and experimental validation.

Methods:

Dispenser cathode emitters were chosen as electron sources. A modular design was adopted, with eight electron emitters (two rows of four emitters) per module, wherein tungsten targets were brazed onto copper anode blocks—one anode block per module. A specialized ceramic connector provided high voltage standoff capability and cooling oil flow to the anode. A matrix topology and low-noise electronic controls provided switching of the emitters.

Results:

Four modules (32 x-ray sources in two rows of 16) have been successfully integrated into a single vacuum vessel and operated on an inverse-geometry computed tomography system. Dispenser cathodes provided high beam current (>1000 mA) in pulse mode, and the electrostatic lenses focused the current beam to a small optical focal spot size (0.5 × 1.4 mm). Controlled emitter grid voltage allowed the beam current to be varied for each source, providing the ability to modulate beam current across the fan of the x-ray beam, denoted as a virtual bowtie filter. The custom designed controls achieved x-ray source switching in <1 μs. The cathode-grounded source was operated successfully up to 120 kV.

Conclusions:

A high-power, distributed x-ray source for inverse-geometry CT applications was successfully designed, fabricated, and operated. Future embodiments may increase the number of spots and utilize fast read out detectors to increase the x-ray flux magnitude further, while still staying within the stationary target inherent thermal limitations.

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