An innovative way to measure and image X-ray beams with unrivalled precision, developed at The University of Manchester, has been honoured with a 2013 R&D 100 Award – often dubbed the ‘Oscars of Innovation’.
Presented by R&D Magazine, the R&D 100 Awards recognise the year’s top technology products from industry, academia, and government-sponsored research, ranging from electronic instruments to chemistry to materials to biomedical breakthroughs.
Researchers in the University’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, led by Dr Roelof van Silfhout, have developed a system capable of imaging an intense beam of X-rays as it is being used to investigate a multitude of objects. A means of imaging an X-ray beam transparently during experimentation will be beneficial across all sciences. The new system was licensed to FMB Oxford Ltd, who industrialised it and are now marketing the system under the name NanoBPM.
The NanoBPM (Beam Position Monitor) is the only technology of its kind in the world, providing detailed diagnostics of the impinging beam during measurements with highly focused beams. The NanoBPM is capable of providing <100nm positional resolution as well as imaging of the beam cross-section. The technology will have uses in synchrotron radiation centres across the globe, where its speed and simplicity is likely to have a huge impact on quality and precision of research conducted with X-rays. It is particularly well suited for the monitoring of undulator-generated or micro-focused X-ray beams.
It is anticipated that, in addition to its use in synchrotron-based X-ray measurements, the NanoBPM could be developed for the healthcare industry, where precision beam positioning is necessary in radiotherapy treatment, and there is also scope for using key components of the system as a smart camera.
The NanoBPM is a prime example of a successful transfer of technology from university to industry, in this instance facilitated by the University of Manchester’s technology transfer office, UMIP.
Steve Syme, Business Manager (Detectors and Diagnostics) at FMB Oxford Ltd, said: “We are delighted that the NanoBPM has been recognised for its cutting-edge capabilities, with the potential to transform X-ray experimentation through real time, non-invasive imaging and a new level of beam positional accuracy. We are very pleased to be able to bring this innovative technology to the market, and look forward to doing our part to improve synchrotron experiments across the world. We would like to thank Dr van Silfhout and his team, along with UMIP, for the fantastic support they have provided.”
Dr van Silfhout: “It's an honour to have been awarded this prestigious prize. The multidisciplinary and collaborative team transformed the early prototype to a quality product. The process of creating a commercial product has not been without hiccups and setbacks. It was crucial to have a dedicated team in place that was determined to overcome any hurdles. I would like to acknowledge financial support from the Engineering and Physical Research Council for funding both the original research and the subsequent technology transfer to our commercial partner."