(19)
(11)EP 3 664 119 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
10.06.2020 Bulletin 2020/24

(21)Application number: 19195781.0

(22)Date of filing:  06.09.2019
(51)Int. Cl.: 
H01J 35/08  (2006.01)
H01J 35/10  (2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(30)Priority: 07.12.2018 US 201862777043 P

(71)Applicant: Siemens Healthcare GmbH
91052 Erlangen (DE)

(72)Inventors:
  • Freudenberger, Jörg
    90562 Kalchreuth (DE)
  • Fritzler, Anja
    91052 Erlangen (DE)
  • Geithner, Peter
    91058 Erlangen (DE)
  • Hackenschmied, Peter
    90425 Nürnberg (DE)
  • Weber, Thomas
    91353 Hausen (DE)

  


(54)X-RAY DEVICE AND METHOD OF APPLYING X-RAY RADIATION


(57) The present invention provides an x-ray device comprising a housing (2) configured to provide a vacuum therein, a cathode (3) arranged inside the housing (2) and configured to emit electrons, an anode (4) arranged inside the housing (2) and configured to produce x-ray radiation when impacted by electrons emitted by the cathode (3), and a converter (5) configured to convert the x-ray radiation produced by the anode (4) into monochromatic x-ray radiation, wherein the anode (4) is configured to produce x-ray radiation in transmission and is arranged between the cathode (3) and the converter (5).
The present invention can be used in medical imaging, therapy, spectroscopy, and the like. Geometries and configurations can be improved compared to previously known x-ray devices when it comes to requirements for space, materials used, complexity of electrical wiring, distance between cathode and anode, and providing supplementary functions.




Description


[0001] The present application is directed to an x-ray device and a method of applying x-ray radiation.

[0002] X-ray radiation is being used in a multitude of applications, ranging from medical imaging or therapy or security checks at airports to crystallography. The most common devices for generating x-ray radiation are x-ray tubes, which are vacuum tubes in which electrons are emitted by a cathode and accelerated towards an anode, where the electrons produce x-ray radiations through bremsstrahlung or other physical processes. X-ray tubes are generally simpler in construction and use than other ways of producing x-ray radiation like for example synchrotron radiation generated in particle accelerators.

[0003] US 2018/0333591 A1 describes such an x-ray device, which further comprises a converter to transform polychromatic x-ray radiation produced by bremsstrahlung into characteristic monochromatic radiation, which is desirable in particular in medical applications as results can be obtain with lower radiation dosages. In said x-ray device and other similar x-ray devices, as described for example in DE 19 639 241 C2, the x-ray radiation has to be directed from the anode to the converter, which leads complex beamlines for the x-ray radiation traveling from the anode to the point of application.

[0004] This leads to generally small angles of incidence of the x-ray radiation and accompanying lowered intensity of radiation as well as heating of other components of the x-ray device by x-ray photons which are not directed towards the point of application.

[0005] Against this background, an objective of the present invention is to provide means to simplify the beamlines of x-ray radiation in an x-ray device.

[0006] According to the present invention, this task is solved by an x-ray device with the characteristics of the patent claim 1, and by a method of applying x-ray radiation with the features of the patent claim 13.

[0007] Consequently, an x-ray device is provided, which comprises a housing configured to provide (or comprising) a vacuum therein, a cathode arranged inside the housing and configured to emit electrons, an anode arranged inside the housing and configured to produce x-ray radiation when impacted by electrons emitted by the cathode, and a converter configured to convert the x-ray radiation produced by the anode into monochromatic x-ray radiation. The anode is configured to produce x-ray radiation in transmission and is arranged between the cathode and the converter.

[0008] Furthermore, a method of applying x-ray radiation is provided. In this method electrons are emitted from a cathode. X-ray radiation is produced with an anode being impacted by the electrons emitted from the cathode, x-ray radiation produced by the anode is converted into monochromatic x-ray radiation with a converter, and the monochromatic x-ray radiation is applied. The anode is configured to produce x-ray radiation in transmission and is arranged between the cathode and the converter.

[0009] It is an idea of the present invention to combine an anode configured to produce x-ray radiation in transmission with converter for converting said x-ray radiation into monochromatic x-ray radiation. This greatly simplifies the beam path the x-ray radiation travels on from the anode to the region of application via the converter, compared to previously known x-ray devices. This simplified design further allows an improved provision of supplementary functions to the x-ray device, in particular an arrangement of ways for cooling the anode and/or the converter.

[0010] Advantageous configurations and further embodiments can be derived from the dependent claims as well as from the description with reference to the figures.

[0011] According to a further embodiment, the x-ray device comprises a transmission body, wherein the transmission body comprises a material transparent to x-ray radiation. Such a transmission body can be arranged as a way of dissipating heat away from the anode and/or the converter, advantageously prolonging the lifetime of the respective parts.

[0012] According to a further embodiment, the transmission body is arranged in contact with the anode. In that configuration, the transmission body can advantageously dissipate heat from the anode by heat conduction.

[0013] According to a further embodiment, the transmission body is arranged structurally separated from the converter. In that configuration the converter can be easily exchangeable allowing improved advantageous adaptability of the x-ray device.

[0014] According to a further embodiment, the transmission body is arranged in contact with the converter. In that configuration, the transmission body can advantageously dissipate heat from the converter by heat conduction.

[0015] According to a further embodiment, the converter is arranged between the anode and the transmission body in contact with the anode and the transmission body. In that configuration, the transmission body can be formed especially large, advantageously improving its capacity to dissipate heat from both the anode and the converter by heat conduction.

[0016] According to a further embodiment, the x-ray device comprises a cooling device configured to cool the converter. This allows even better dissipation of heat away from the converter, advantageously improving the lifetime of the converter.

[0017] According to a further embodiment, the converter is arranged inside the transmission body. In that configuration, the converter can be arranged especially close to the anode, advantageously increasing the amount of x-ray radiation produced by the anode converted into monochromatic x-ray radiation by the converter.

[0018] According to a further embodiment, the converter is arranged in a curved form such that at least one lateral edge of the converter is in contact with the anode. This advantageously increases the amount of x-ray radiation produced by the anode converted into monochromatic x-ray radiation by the converter even further.

[0019] According to a further embodiment, the x-ray device comprises a cooling device configured to cool the transmission body. This allows even better dissipation of heat away from the transmission body, advantageously improving its capability of dissipating heat away from the anode and/or the converter.

[0020] According to further embodiment, the x-ray device comprises a cooling device configured to cool the anode. This allows even better dissipation of heat away from the anode, advantageously improving the lifetime of the anode.

[0021] According to further embodiment, the anode, the converter and/or the transmission body are configured to be rotatable around an axis of rotation. Such a configuration enables a limitation of which parts of the respective components are heated during use of the x-ray device, which allows for an advantageously continuous dissipation of heat even when producing high intensities of x-ray radiation.
The above mentioned configurations and further embodiments can be combined with each other, if it is reasonable. Further possible configurations, further embodiments and implementations of the invention also include combinations of features of the invention described before or in the following with regard to the examples of implementation not explicitly mentioned. In particular, the skilled person will also add individual aspects as improvements or additions to the respective fundamental form of the present invention.

[0022] This invention is explained in more detail below using the examples given in the schematic illustrations. They show in
Fig. 1
a schematic representation of an embodiment of an x-ray device;
Fig. 2
a schematic view of part of an embodiment of an x-ray device;
Fig. 3
a schematic view of part of an embodiment of an x-ray device;
Fig. 4
a schematic view of part of an embodiment of an x-ray device;
Fig. 5
a schematic view of part of an embodiment of an x-ray device;
Fig. 6
a schematic view of part of an embodiment of an x-ray device;
Fig. 7
a schematic view of part of an embodiment of an x-ray device;
Fig. 8
a schematic view of part of an embodiment of an x-ray device;
Fig. 9
a schematic view of part of an embodiment of an x-ray device;
Fig. 10
a schematic view of part of an embodiment of an x-ray device; and
Fig. 11
a schematic flow chart of an embodiment of a method of applying x-ray radiation.


[0023] The following figures are intended to convey a further understanding of the forms in which the invention is carried out. They illustrate embodiments and serve in connection with the description to explain principles and concepts of the invention. Other embodiments and many of the above-mentioned advantages can be derived from the drawings. The elements of the drawings are not necessarily shown to scale.

[0024] In the figures of the drawings, identical elements, characteristics and components with the same function and effect are provided with the same reference signs, unless otherwise specified.

[0025] Figure 1 shows a schematic representation of an embodiment of an x-ray device 1. The x-ray device comprises a housing 2, a cathode 3, an anode 4, and a converter 5. The housing 2 is airtight and configured to provide a vacuum therein. The cathode 3, the anode 4, and the converter 5 are arranged inside the housing 2. The anode 4 is arranged between the cathode 3 and the converter 5.

[0026] In use, the cathode 3 emits electrons into the vacuum inside the housing 2, for example through the field emission effect, thermionic emission, or other well-known physical processes. Under effect of the electrical field between the cathode 3 and the anode 4, the electrons are accelerated towards the anode 4. Upon impacting on the anode 4, the electrons interact with the anode 4 and thereby produce x-ray radiation through bremsstrahlung, characteristic x-ray emission, or the like. The anode 4 is configured to produce x-ray radiation in transmission, which means that the produced x-ray radiation radiates onwards from the anode 4 in the direction of the converter 5. X-ray radiation impacting on the converter 5 is converted into monochromatic x-ray radiation, which in the embodiment shown in Figure 1 radiates in a direction perpendicular to the direction of incident x-ray radiation produced by the anode 4.

[0027] As shown in Figure 1, the combination of an anode 4 configured to produce x-ray radiation in transmission with a converter 5 allows for a very simple beam path of the x-ray radiation comprising only a single change in direction of the x-ray radiation. Furthermore, the converter 5 comprises a simple shape in the form of a prism, which allows for easier production of the converter 5 compare to for example the truncated pyramid shape known from some already known x-ray devices.

[0028] Figure 2 shows a schematic through a part of a further embodiment of an x-ray device 1. Figure 2 shows an anode 4 and a converter 5, which are essentially the same as those shown in Figure 1, as well as a transmission body 6. The transmission body 6 comprises a material transparent to x-ray radiation and comprises a wedge-form. The transmission body 6 is arranged in contact with the anode 4 and the converter 5.

[0029] The x-ray device 1 functions essentially the same as the x-ray device 1 described in conjunction with Figure 1. Furthermore, the arrangement of the transmission body 6 in contact with both the anode 4 and the converter 5 allows for improved dissipation of heat from the anode 4, which is heated by the electrons impacting thereon, and the converter 5, which is heated by the absorption of x-ray photons at energy levels above the energy of the emitted monochromatic x-ray radiation. As the transmission body 6 is transparent to x-ray radiation it is itself not substantially heated be the x-ray radiation passing there through.

[0030] Figure 3 shows a schematic view of a part of a further embodiment of an x-ray device 1. Figure 3 shows an anode 4, a converter 5, and a transmission body 6, which are essentially the same as shown in Figure 2. Figure 3 further shows a heat conductor 7 arranged in contact with the converter 5. The heat conductor 7 is configured to be rotatable around an axis of rotation X, and the anode 4, the converter 5, and the transmission body 6 are configured to be rotatable along with the heat conductor 7. The anode 4, the converter 5, the transmission body 6, and the heat conductor 7 have a shape which is rotationally symmetrical around the axis of rotation X.

[0031] In use, the anode 4, the converter 5, the transmission body 6, and the heat conductor 7 rotate around the axis of rotation X. Therefore, only a part of the respective parts interacts with the electrons emitted by the cathode 3, which is not shown. As only the parts interacting with the electrons heat up, said heat can be continuously dissipated, which greatly increases the lifetime of the respective parts of the x-ray device.

[0032] Figure 4 shows a schematic view of a part of a further embodiment of an x-ray device 1. Figure 4 shows an anode 4, a converter 5, and part of a transmission body 6. In the embodiment shown in Figure 4, the converter 5 is arranged between and in contact with the anode 4 and the transmission body 6. The converter 5 is configured to convert x-ray radiation into monochromatic x-ray radiation in transmission, which means that the monochromatic x-ray radiation leaves the converter 5 on the opposite side of the x-ray radiation produced by the anode 4 entering the converter 5.

[0033] In the embodiment shown in Figure 4, the transmission body 6 is formed larger than in the previously shown embodiments, which greatly enhances its capability for dissipating heat away from the anode 4 and the converter 5.

[0034] Figure 5 shows a schematic view of a part of a further embodiment of an x-ray device 1. Figure 5 shows an anode 4, a converter 5, and a transmission body 6. In the embodiment shown in Figure 5, the transmission body 6 is arranged in contact with the anode 4 and is configured to be rotatable around an axis of rotation X. The anode 4 and the transmission body 6 are configured to be rotationally symmetrical around the axis of rotation X, providing the advantages described in conjuncture with Figure 3.

[0035] The converter 5 is arranged separate from both the anode 4 and the transmission body 6. In this configuration, the converter 5 can be configured to be easily replaceable, which allows the x-ray device 1 to be adapted to different intended purposes. For example, multiple converters may be arranged on a wheel and be exchanged by rotating said wheel.

[0036] Figure 6 shows a schematic view of a part of a further embodiment of an x-ray device 1. Figure 6 shows an anode 4, a converter 5, and a transmission body 6. In the embodiment shown in Figure 6, the anode 4, the converter 5, and the transmission body 6 each comprise a flat, plate-like shape, and the transmission body 6 is arranged between and in contact with the anode 4 and the converter 5. The embodiment shown in Figure 6 exemplifies the simplicity of configuration of the parts or the x-ray device enabled by the combination of an anode 4 configured to produce x-ray radiation in transmission and a converter 5.
The x-ray device 1 shown in Figure 6 further comprises a collimator 8, configured to narrow the angle of monochromatic x-ray radiation traveling from the converter 5 to the point of application. The collimator 8 can be configured to be exchangeable.

[0037] In the perspective shown in Figure 6, the electrons impact the anode 4 coming from the left and the monochromatic x-ray radiation emitted by the converter 5 mainly radiates in an upward direction through the collimator 8.

[0038] Figure 7 shows a schematic view of a part of a further embodiment of an x-ray device 1. Figure 7 shows an anode 4, a converter 5, a transmission body 6, and a collimator 8. The embodiment shown in Figure 7 differs from the embodiment shown in Figure 6 in that the converter 5 is configured to be a layer arranged inside the transmission body 6. In this configuration, the converter 5 can be arranged close to the anode 4, which increases the amount of x-ray radiation reaching the converter 5 from the anode 4 without being scattered.

[0039] Furthermore, the anode 4 shown in Figure 7 comprises a curved shape, which increases the surface impacted by electrons and consequently increases the amount of x-ray radiation produced by the anode 4.

[0040] The converter 5 shown in Figure 7 is configured as one single layer. It is also possible to configure a converter 5 inside a transmission body 6 as comprising a plurality of parts. For example converter 5 in that sense can be configured to comprise a plurality of micro-particles distributed in the transmission body 6.

[0041] Figure 8 shows a schematic view of a part of a further embodiment of an x-ray device 1. Figure 8 shows an anode 4, a converter 5, and a transmission body 6. Figure 8 shows a different perspective than the one shown in Figures 6 and 7. In the perspective of Figure 8, the monochromatic x-ray radiation emitted by the converter 5 radiates towards the point of view. The layer comprising the converter 5 has a curved shape, with its lateral edges being arranged in contact with the anode 4. In this configuration, almost all of the x-ray radiation produced by the anode 4 reaches the converter 5 and is subsequently converted into monochromatic x-ray radiation.

[0042] Figure 9 shows a schematic view of a part of a further embodiment of an x-ray device 1. Figure 9 shows an anode 4, a converter 5, a transmission body 6, and a collimator 8. In the embodiment shown in Figure 9, the anode 4 comprises two x-ray-active layers 9, which are arranged to be impacted by electrons coming from opposite sides. The transmission body 6 is arranged in between the two x-ray active layers 9, and the converter 5 is configured as a layer having a paraboloid shape arranged inside the transmission body 6. A heat conductor 7 is arranged in contact with the transmission body 6 and is configured to be rotatable around an axis of rotation X. The anode 4, the converter 5, and the transmission body 6 are configured to be rotatable along with the heat conductor and have a rotationally symmetrical shape forming a rotating anode configuration.

[0043] Figure 10 shows a schematic view of a part of a further embodiment of an x-ray device 1. Figure 10 shows an anode 4, a converter 5, a transmission body 6, and a collimator 8. The configuration shown in Figure 10 corresponds to the configuration shown in Figure 6, except that in Figure 10, the converter 5 is arranged between and in contact with the anode 4 and the transmission body 6.

[0044] The anodes shown in the preceding figures can comprise material suitable for producing x-ray radiation upon being impacted by high-energy electrons, for example electrons having an energy of 50keV, such as tungsten, gold, or the like. In order to configure an anode to produce x-ray radiation in transmission, the anode can comprise a thin layer of such a material, comprising for example a thickness between 5 µm (micrometers) and 25pm (micrometers). Other thicknesses are also possible.

[0045] The converters shown in the preceding figures can comprise materials suitable for converting x-ray radiation, for example x-ray radiation produced by bremsstrahlung, into monochromatic x-ray radiation, like silver, gallium-oxide, or the like. The converter can comprise thin layers of such materials, in particular in the embodiments where the converter is embedded in the transmission body. Such layers can be as thin as for example 5 µm (micrometers) or 10pm (micrometers), and can be as thick as for example 25 µm (micrometers) or 100µm (micrometers). Other thicknesses are also possible.

[0046] The transmission bodies shown in the preceding figures can comprise materials which are transparent to x-ray radiation, in particular to x-ray radiation above the absorption edge of the converter, and also possess high heat capacitance and heat conduction. Examples for such materials include copper, carbon, silicon-carbide, and the like.

[0047] Even though not shown in the preceding figures, any embodiment may further comprise a cooling device for the anode, the converter and/or the transmission body. One cooling device may be provided for all of these or for a plurality thereof, or one cooling device may be provided for each of these. Such cooling devices may comprise water cooling or air-convection cooling.

[0048] Figure 11 shows a schematic flow chart of a method 100 of applying x-ray radiation. In a first method step 101, electrons are emitted by a cathode. The electrons are accelerated away from the electron and impact on an anode, thereby producing x-ray radiation in a further method step 102. The x-ray radiation produced in method step 102 is then converted into monochromatic x-ray radiation with a converter in a further method step 103. The monochromatic x-ray radiation is then applied in a further method step 104.


Claims

1. X-ray device (1) comprising:

a housing (2) configured to provide a vacuum therein;

a cathode (3) arranged inside the housing (2) and configured to emit electrons;

an anode (4) arranged inside the housing (2) and configured to produce x-ray radiation when impacted by electrons emitted by the cathode (3); and

a converter (5) configured to convert the x-ray radiation produced by the anode (4) into monochromatic x-ray radiation;

wherein the anode (4) is configured to produce x-ray radiation in transmission and is arranged between the cathode (3) and the converter (5).


 
2. X-ray device (1) according to claim 1, further comprising a transmission body (6), wherein the transmission body (6) comprises a material transparent to x-ray radiation.
 
3. X-ray device (1) according to claim 2, wherein the transmission body (6) is arranged in contact with the anode (4).
 
4. X-ray device (1) according to claim 3, wherein the transmission body (6) is arranged structurally separated from the converter (5).
 
5. X-ray device (1) according to claim 3, wherein the transmission body (6) is arranged in contact with the converter (5).
 
6. X-ray device (1) according to claim 2, wherein the converter (5) is arranged between the anode (4) and the transmission body (6) in contact with the anode (4) and the transmission body (6).
 
7. X-ray device (1) according to any of the preceding claims, further comprising a cooling device configured to cool the converter (5).
 
8. X-ray device (1) according to claim 2, wherein the converter (5) is arranged inside the transmission body (6).
 
9. X-ray device (1) according to claim 8, wherein the converter (5) is arranged in a curved form such that at least one lateral edge of the converter (5) is in contact with the anode (6).
 
10. X-ray device (1) according to claim 8 or claim 9, further comprising a cooling device configured to cool the transmission body (6).
 
11. X-ray device (1) according to any of the previous claims, further comprising a cooling device configured to cool the anode (4).
 
12. X-ray device (1) according to any of the previous claims, wherein the anode (4), the converter (5) and/or the transmission body (6) are configured to be rotatable around an axis of rotation.
 
13. Method (100) of applying x-ray radiation, comprising:

emitting (101) electrons from a cathode;

producing (102) x-ray radiation with an anode being impacted by the electrons emitted from the cathode;

converting (104) x-ray radiation produced by the anode into monochromatic x-ray radiation with a converter; and

applying (103) the monochromatic x-ray radiation;

wherein the anode is configured to produce x-ray radiation in transmission and is arranged between the cathode and the converter.


 




Drawing
































REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description