Diffraction Enhanced Imaging

Dean Chapman is looking at bio-medical problems in a whole new way – literally.

As Canada Research Chair in X-Ray Imaging, Chapman is pushing the limits of enhanced imaging methods to expand their quality, availability and usefulness. Diffraction enhanced x-ray imaging (DEI) makes use of not only the x-rays that are absorbed, as in traditional methods, but also of the x-rays that are refracted and scattered. This allows for the extraction of more and better information from the images.

"The beauty of imaging is that you don't take things apart to figure it out," said Chapman. "It's a more effective use of resources." Creating new and better technology and improved methods for their use is Chapman's forte. He described it as "building the toys and making the toys work well."

One of the DEI projects underway on campus is relating bone structure to the risk of fracture. Many world-class athletes begin training during adolescence. During this time, there is a large discrepancy between bone growth and bone mineral accrual, according to Adam Baxter-Jones, associate dean of graduate education and research in the College of Kinesiology. His hope is that this work will discover patterns in why bone fractures occur more frequently in this group, and if they can be prevented. Fractures disrupt training schedules and hinder progress, so this work has the potential to lower the incidence of these interruptions.

Many other projects and groups are making good use of Chapman's expertise and the resources available at the Canadian Light Source (CLS) synchrotron. A beamline at the CLS, known as BMIT, is being used in many studies and is being improved to further increase its capabilities.

Building on Chapman's earlier work, Ying Zhu, one of Chapman's graduate students, is using a bent Laue analyzer (a crystal that diffracts x-rays), to study Parkinson's disease. Manganese, an element indicated in the presence of the disease, cannot be verified by traditional methods, but the Laue analyzer identifies the manganese as separate from other elements. Zhu is building on some work done by another student, Honglin Zhang, to push the resolution and sensitivity of K-edge subtraction, a method that detects a contrast material such as iodine for small animal imaging.  Another project by Brian Bewer is making diffraction enhanced imaging possible in linescan mode, which means the image forgives movement of the object. Even if the object moves and the image is jogged, it is still usable. 

One of the promising aspects of DEI is that it requires a lower dose to do the same thing as traditional x-ray methods. Chapman believes it is possible to make the dose so low it is safe for fetuses and infants, which would expand the possibilities for its use even further.

Read more about Dean Chapman's work at: http://www.medicine.usask.ca/research/smi/the-team/dr.-dean-chapman.html

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