The influence of electron multiplication and internal X-ray fluorescence on the performance of a scintillator-based gamma camera

Hall, David; Holland, Andrew and Soman, Matthew (2012). The influence of electron multiplication and internal X-ray fluorescence on the performance of a scintillator-based gamma camera. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment, 678 64- 77.



When considering the "standard" gamma-camera, one might picture an array of photo-multiplier tubes or a similar array of small-area detectors. This array of imaging detectors would be attached to a corresponding array of scintillator modules (or a solid layer of scintillator) in order to give a high detection efficiency in the energy region of interest, usually 8-140 keV. Over recent years, developments of gamma-cameras capable of achieving much higher spatial resolutions have led to a new range of systems based on Charge-Coupled Devices with some form of signal multiplication between the scintillator and the CCD in order for one to distinguish the light output from the scintillator above the CCD noise. The use of an Electron-Multiplying Charge-Coupled Device (EM-CCD) incorporates the gain process within the CCD through a form of "impact ionisation", however, the gain process introduces an "excess noise factor" due to the probabilistic nature of impact ionisation and this additional noise consequently has an impact on the spatial and spectral resolution of the detector. Internal fluorescence in the scintillator, producing K-shell X-ray fluorescence photons that can be detected alongside the incident gamma-rays, also has a major impact on the imaging capabilities of gamma-cameras. This impact varies dramatically from the low spatial resolution to high spatial resolution camera system. Through a process of simulation and experimental testing focussed on the high spatial resolution (EM-CCD based) variant, the factors affecting the performance of gamma-camera systems are discussed and the results lead to important conclusions to be considered for the development of future systems. This paper presents a study into the influence of the EM-CCD gain process and the internal X-ray fluorescence in the scintillator on the performance of scintillator-based gamma cameras (CCD-based or otherwise), making use of Monte Carlo simulations to demonstrate the aspects involved, their influence on the imaging system and the hypotheses previously discussed in experimental studies.

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