Depth-of-interaction positron emission tomography detector with 45 degrees tilted silicon photomultipliers using dual-ended signal readout

Medical physics(2023)

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BackgroundSmall-animal positron emission tomography (PET) systems are widely used in molecular imaging research and drug development. There is also growing interest in organ-dedicated clinical PET systems. In these small-diameter PET systems, the measurement of the depth-of-interaction (DOI) of annihilation photons in scintillation crystals allows for the correction of parallax error in PET system, leading to an improvement on the spatial resolution uniformity. The DOI information is also useful for improving the timing resolution of PET system as it enables the correction of DOI-dependent time walk in the arrival time difference measurement of annihilation photon pairs. The dual-ended readout scheme is one of the most widely investigated DOI measurement methods, which collects visible photons using a pair of photosensors located at both ends of the scintillation crystal. Although the dual-ended readout allows for simple and accurate DOI estimation, it requires twice the number of photosensors compared to the single-ended readout scheme. PurposeTo effectively reduce the number of photosensors in a dual-ended readout scheme, we propose a novel PET detector configuration that employs 45 degrees tilted and sparsely arranged silicon photomultipliers (SiPMs). In this configuration, the angle between the scintillation crystal and SiPM is 45 degrees. Therefore, and thus, the diagonal of the scintillation crystal matches one of the lateral sides of the SiPM. Accordingly, it allows for the use of SiPM device larger than the scintillation crystal, thereby improving light collection efficiency with a higher fill factor and reducing SiPM quantity. In addition, all scintillation crystals can achieve more uniform performance than other dual-ended readout methods with a sparse SiPM arrangement because 50% of the scintillation crystal cross section is commonly in contact with the SiPM. MethodsTo demonstrate the feasibility of our proposed concept, we implemented a PET detector that employs a 4x${\rm{\;}} \times \;$4 LSO block with a single crystal dimension of 3.03 x 3.03 x 20 mm(3) and a 45 degrees tilted SiPM array. The 45 degrees tilted SiPM array consists of 2 x 3 SiPM elements at the top ("Top SiPM") and 3 x 2 SiPM elements at the bottom ("Bottom SiPM"). Each crystal element of the 4 x 4 LSO block is optically coupled with each quarter section of the Top SiPM and Bottom SiPM pair. To characterize the performance of the PET detector, the energy, DOI, and timing resolution were measured for all 16 crystals. The energy data was obtained by summing all the charges from the Top SiPMs and Bottom SiPMs, and the DOI resolution was measured by irradiating the side of the crystal block at five different depths (2, 6, 10, 14, and 18 mm). The timing was estimated by averaging the arrival time of the annihilation photons measured at the Top SiPMs and Bottom SiPMs (Method 1). The DOI-dependent time-walk effect was further corrected by using DOI information and statistical variations in the trigger times at the Top SiPMs and Bottom SiPMs (Method 2). ResultsThe average DOI resolution of the proposed PET detector was 2.5 mm, thereby resolving the DOI at five different depths, and the average energy resolution was 16% full width at half maximum (FWHM). When Methods 1 and 2 were applied, the coincidence timing resolutions were 448 and 411 ps FWHM, respectively. ConclusionsWe expect that our novel low-cost PET detector design with 45 degrees tilted SiPMs and a dual-ended readout scheme would be a suitable solution for constructing a high-resolution PET system with DOI encoding capability.
depth-of-interaction (DOI),dual-ended signal readout,high-resolution,positron emission tomography (PET),silicon photomultiplier (SiPM)
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