Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tech Professor Gets Nan-CT Funding

Professor Ge Wang (right) and his colleagues at work^

Virginia Tech engineering professor Ge Wang and his colleagues have successfully applied for more than $1.3 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop the next-generation nano-CT imaging system.

In 1991, Wang produced the first paper on CT scans and the new research promises to greatly reduce the required dose of radiation. Virginia Tech and Xradia, a leading nano-CT company, are also collaborating on the project with a cost-sharing investment of close to $800,000.

CT is an imaging method that shows objects by sections or sectioning, through the use of x-ray waves and computer processing. "X-ray nano-CT is a cutting edge imaging tool," Wang says, "but a long-standing barrier to realizing its full potential is its inability to precisely reconstruct an interior region of interest within a larger object from purely local projections."

Wang, has a scholarly record of achievements in the imaging world. More than 1,000 scientific citations are attributed to his group's pioneering efforts. In 2002, for example, he and his research group pioneered another highly sensitive imaging procedure called bioluminescence tomography (BLT).

One application of the in vivo molecular imaging technology became the identification of tumors in live animals. As an additional example, in 2007 he and his collaborators, Yangbo Ye of the University of Iowa and Hengyong Yu, who is the associate director of Wang's CT lab, patented a novel X-ray imaging method called "interior tomography."

Interior tomography, Wang says, was a first step toward overcoming the long-standing barrier to realizing the full potential of X-ray nano-CT. Despite the ability of this cutting-edge imaging tool as a non-destructive, non-invasive recorder of information, it cannot "precisely reconstruct an interior region of interest within a large object from purely local projections," Wang says. And, when used in medicine, a patient is subjected to "a radiation dose that must be increased dramatically to obtain improved resolutions."

Wang suggested to the NSF that the combination of X-ray nano-CT and interior tomography will provide "a versatile nano-imaging tool that can visualize fine features within a larger object, and use a much lower radiation dose and in much less time." This new work is the foundation of the NSF project.

Working with Wang on this NSF grant are Chris Wyatt, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; Linbing Wang, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering; and Yu, all at Virginia Tech. Also, David Carroll, associate professor of physics at Wake Forest University, is a member of the team.

On the industrial side, the key collaborators are Steve Wang, S. H. Lau and Wenbing Yun. Together, they believe they can construct this next generation of a nano-CT imaging system that will provide images that will reveal deeply imbedded details, including subcellular features. And, they believe they can handle a sample that is ten times larger than what is currently available, and at much reduced radiation dose," Wang says.

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