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A colour X-ray machine that can detect the chemical make-up as well as the structure and shape of a sample has been demonstrated by UK researchers. They say the new technique could be better at spotting smuggled substances or abnormal body tissue.
Regular X-ray machines and CT scanners can produce images in 2 or 3D, but only in monochrome. In the same way that black-and-white film is blind to other wavelengths of light, these techniques cannot distinguish between different wavelengths of X-ray.
"We have miniaturised a detector that can differentiate those different wavelengths," says Robert Cernik, a materials scientist at Manchester University, UK, who developed the device with colleagues Kern Hauw Khor and Conny Hansson.