Professor Ha Jang-ho’s research team at the Advanced Radiation Technology Institute of the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) announced on July 1 that it is going to complete its research on radiation sensors and radiation sensor materials used in radiation imaging devices such as nuclear medicine imaging and airport security detection devices. The team is planning to come up with Korea’s first domestically produced radiation imaging devices for medical use by 2015, including those for positron emission tomography (PET) and singe photon emission computed tomography (SPECT).
The researchers began their research on the sensor technology back in 2007 and succeeded in growing the compound semiconductor element of CdZnTe, in which cadmium, zinc and tellurium are synthesized, into a single crystal with a diameter of two inches in 2009 for the sixth time in the world. They are going to further raise the yield and develop CdTe and CdZnTe single crystals with the minimum diameter of three inches by the second half of this year, using them to produce radiation sensors before supplying the samples to clients at home and abroad.
The team is also working on analog electronic signal processing technology for the development of sensor materials, high-resolution sensors and overall sensor systems while combining them with digital electronics and imaging technologies of local colleges and corporations in order to produce prototypes of radiation imaging devices.
PET and SPECT systems cost two to five billion won per unit and the domestic market is currently dominated by global companies like GE Medical, Siemens and Philips. Once the self-development turns out to be successful to halve the unit supply price, the import replacement effect is estimated to reach a trillion won a year.
At the same time, the researchers are aiming to develop materials using mercuric iodide (HgI2) and titanium bromide (TIBr), two of next-generation radiation sensor materials, by 2017 so that Korea can take the lead in the advanced radiation imaging device market. The materials are planned to be employed in airport and port security detectors, space telescopes, advanced solar cells and so forth, too.
“The global radiation imaging device market is estimated at over 70 trillion won in size and its annual growth rate is expected to amount to 17% down the road with the preference for pain-free and bloodless therapies going up,” said the professor, continuing, “We will keep devoting ourselves so that Korea can obtain the finest radiation imaging technology, radiation sensor materials and radiation sensors in the world.”