Nano and Micro SystemsABOVE: Miniature x-ray tube using carbon nanotube field emission source.
Miniature X-ray Imaging / Spectroscopic Tool
JPL’s carbon nanotube (CNT) field-emission technology has been used to realize a preliminary version of an imaging/spectroscopic tool suitable for harsh-environment applications. Such a tool is desired for in situ applications to acquire real-time penetrative images as well as elemental composition data of the surrounding geological features. The tool is also useful for oil and gas industry applications in open wells. The problem, however, is the unavailability of a compact X-ray source and imaging/spectroscopic system that can be integrated into an actuating tool (for example, a robotic arm). JPL is developing a compact version of such a tool with potential to tune the source energy. Using robust CNTs to produce field-emission electrons, a miniature X-ray tube using various target anodes, selected to cover the design energy range, was demonstrated along with its ability to produce transmission and backscatter spectra of a shale sample in a laboratory setting.