Plausibility of Image Reconstruction Using a Proposed Flexible and Portable CT Scanner

Jeff Orchard*, 1, Hwa Young Kim1, John T.W. Yeow2
1 David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1, Canada
2 Department of Systems Design Engineering, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1, Canada

© 2011 Orchard et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1 Canada; Tel: (519) 888-4567, Ext. 35037; Fax: (519) 885-1208; E-mail:


The very hot and power-hungry x-ray filaments in today's computed tomography (CT) scanners constrain their design to be big and stationary. What if we built a CT scanner that could be deployed at the scene of a car accident to acquire tomographic images before moving the victim? Recent developments in nanotechnology have shown that carbon nanotubes can produce x-rays at room temperature, and with relatively low power needs. We propose a design for a portable and flexible CT scanner made up of an addressable array of tiny x-ray emitters and detectors. In this paper, we outline a basic design, propose a strategy for reconstruction, and demonstrate the feasibility of reconstruction using experiments on a software simulation of the flexible scanner. These simulations show that reconstruction quality is stable over a wide range of scanner geometries, while progressively larger errors in the scanner geometry induce progressively larger errors. We also raise a number of issues that still need to be overcome to build such a scanner.

Keywords: Computed tomography, reconstruction, nanotechnology, PET.