Design and build an improved time-of-flight PET photodetector device

The Molecular Imaging Branch physics group is starting a research project aimed at improving the Time-Of-Flight (TOF) accuracy of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) with the use of state-of-the-art photodetection devices coupled to new exotic scintillation crystals. The goal is to design and building PET detector modules which achieve 20 pico-second timing resolution. This would allow one to image directly positron emitting radioisotope spatial distributions without the need for post image processing reconstruction algorithms with spatial resolutions under 5mm.

The project will involve helping the physics group design and improve the experimental setup, take data with various scintillation crystal configurations, and work with the Molecular Imaging Branch’s AI group providing pulse data to develop a deep neural net to better the timing resolution of the setup.

The project can be adjusted to best suit the research skills of the student. This can be either a focus on detector module design and construction, programing the experimental control computer to operate the linear drives used to position the positron radioactive source between the detector modules, configuring and operating the high speed oscilloscope for pulse data collection, processing the pulse data to generate timing resolution plots, curate data to generate training data sets needed to tune the timing AI deep neural network, or even work on simulation software needed to understand the nuances of photon propagation through scintillation crystals.