CHAPEL HILL, N.C. Some great inventions are birthed at a bar, their futures scribbled on cocktail napkins. Multi-pixel X-ray technology, the first substantial technological change in X-rays in more than a century, was born over a greasy Philly cheesesteak sandwich.
It was 2000. Otto Zhou was the principal investigator on a $6 million grant from the Office of Naval Research to find applications for carbon nanotubes. Zhou and Jianping Lu, both physics professors at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, often brainstormed ideas over lunch. Other scientists across the country were applying the material to flat-panel displays.
We were at Miami Subs when we thought, what about X-ray" said Zhou, the Lyle Jones Distinguished Professor of Physics and Materials Sciences in UNCs College of Arts and Sciences.
We thought, basically, TV is no different from X-rays, and X-rays are one of the most commonly used devises, Lu said. We started drawing around on a napkin. We have limited medical knowledge but we understand the basic physics of X-rays.
Zhou, Lu and other collaborators grew their napkin diagram and the grant-funded research into Xintek, a small nanotechnology start-up company that licensed technology from UNC and Duke University. Two years ago the company established formal collaborations with Siemens Medical Solutions in Erlangen, Germany.
Siemens and Xintek announced on Sept. 18 a new joint venture company, XinRay Systems, with headquarters in North Carolinas Research Triangle Park, to further develop the technology.
This agreement with Siemens is a major step for us, said Zhou. We can be as confident as we want, but its nice to be confirmed by others willing to take the next steps. Thats gratifying.
As engineers we like to see ideas become something useful, more than just a stack of papers, Zhou said. We like to see the papers, but we want our work to translate into something useful to s
|Contact: Clinton Colmenares|
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill