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Optimizing Imaging Parameters for a Novel Radiographic Imaging System for the Detection of Corrosion in Aluminum Aircraft Structures

J Hammonds

J Hammonds*, R Price, E Donnelly, D Pickens, Vanderbilt Medical Center, Nashville, TN

SU-E-I-76 Sunday 3:00:00 PM - 6:00:00 PM Room: Exhibit Hall

Purpose: A laboratory-based phase-contrast radiography/tomosynthesis imaging system previously (Med. Phys. Vol. 38, 2353 May 2011) for improved detection of low-contrast soft-tissue masses was used to evaluate the sensitivity for detecting the presence of thin layers of corrosion on aluminum aircraft structures.

Methods: The evaluation utilized a test object of aluminum (2.5 inch x 2.5 inch x 1/8 inch) on which different geometric patterns of 0.0038 inch thick anodized aluminum oxide was deposited. A circular area of radius 1 inch centered on the phantom's midpoint was milled to an approximate thickness of 0.022 inches. The x-ray source used for this investigation was a dual focal spot, tungsten anode x-ray tube. The focal used during the investigation has a nominal size of 0.010 mm. The active area of the imager is 17.1 cm x 23.9 cm (2016 x 2816 pixels) with a pixel pitch of 0.085 mm. X-ray tube voltages ranged from 20-40 kVp and source-to-object and object-to-image distances were varied from 20-100 cm. Performance of the phase-contrast mode was compared to conventional absorption-based radiography using contrast ratio and contrast-to-noise ratios (C/N). Phase-contrast performance was based on edge-enhancement index (EEI) and the edge-enhancement-to-noise (EE/N) ratio.

Results: For absorption-based radiography, the best C/N ratio was observed at the lowest kVp value (20 kVp). The optimum sampling angle for tomosynthesis was +/- 8 degrees.

Conclusions: Comparing C/N to EE/N demonstrated the phase-contrast techniques improve the conspicuity of the oxide layer edges. This work provides the optimal parameters that a radiographic imaging system would need to differentiate the two different compounds of aluminum.

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