Space Technology-Inspired High-Resolution X-Ray Camera to Help Dentists

A Swedish company has taken inspiration from an advanced technique used for miniaturizing space hardware to make a visit to the dentist a little more comfortable.

The tiny new high-resolution x-ray camera captures pictures that are dramatically more detailed and with higher contrast than the conventional x-ray machines widely used.

The heart of the camera is a tiny ‘structured scintillator’ device that converts x-rays to visible light. The camera was designed by Scint-X and the scintillator was built by a Swedish company called Nanospace.

In fact, the production technology has already been used by Nanospace to cut the world’s smallest rocket motor out of silicon wafers.

“Our scintillator uses a specially structured silicon substrate and with this unique and patented manufacturing technique we can obtain substantially higher resolution than what is on the market today,” said Per Wiklund of Scint-X.

The X-ray unit inserted into the patient’s mouth is much thinner than today’s models, making the procedure more comfortable.

Scint-X’s innovative technology also has potential for use in space. The Swedish Space Corporation is planning to use the camera aboard a rocket in May 2011 by ESA.

“Our camera provides a resolution that is better than 5 µm and will be used to study the melting and solidification of metals when producing exotic materials in weightlessness,” Wiklund said.