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Lower X-ray doses

Bismuth oxyiodide crystals, already studied for use in solar cells, absorb radiation

John Freeman / Universidade de Cambridge

Bismuth oxyiodide (BiOI) a material used in solar panels, has been shown capable of detecting X-ray doses more than 250 times lower than equivalent devices used commercially, and with a performance 100 times greater. BiOI is a nontoxic semiconductor that absorbs visible light and has already been studied for use in solar cells. Its two chemical elements, bismuth and iodine, absorb X-rays, but previous attempts to create X-ray detectors with the material failed because defects in its nanocrystalline structure caused major energy loss. Now, researchers from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, UK, have developed a way of producing single crystals that greatly reduces structural defects and increases the sensitivity and limits of X-ray detection. In the future, this material could make medical imaging safer through the use of lower doses of radiation, preventing harm to patients (Nature Communications, April 28; University of Cambridge Newsletter, May 10).