GE Healthcare acquires Swedish developer of CT image-boosting photon detectors


GE Healthcare has moved to acquire a Swedish startup and its next-generation photon-counting technology, which the medtech manufacturer says could help expand the clinical reach of its CT scanners.

Prismatic Sensors has developed sensitive detectors capable of reading individual beams of X-ray energy, at a rate of hundreds of millions of photons per second. Their design aims to eliminate the extra electronic noise in a scan, ultimately lowering the overall dose of radiation received by a patient while improving the quality of the image.

Dubbed Deep Silicon technology, this would allow for higher-resolution visualizations of more minute details in organs and tissues—such as pictures of smaller blood vessels or malignant cells, and more accurate density measurements—with potential applications across cancer care, cardiology, neurology and more.

“We believe this technology has the potential to be a substantial step forward for CT imaging to establish a new standard of care and eventually improve clinical outcomes for millions of patients worldwide,” GE Healthcare President and CEO Kieran Murphy said in a statement.

GE researchers first began studying photon-counting technology in 1993 and launched the world’s first prototype using cadmium-based detectors in 2006. Now, GE said Prismatic’s Deep Silicon detectors promise a better solution to the high levels of energy produced by CT imaging, and are capable of providing more information to clinicians.

“Silicon is by far the purest material produced for use in detectors,” said Prismatic CEO Mats Danielsson. “Alternative materials, including cadmium-based, will be limited as X-ray detector materials due to their imperfect crystal structure and contaminations. Silicon-based detectors will enable superior spectral resolution without compromising on count rate or spatial resolution.”

GE has held a minority position in the company since 2017, which was originally founded in 2012 as a spin-off from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. The two companies aim to close the deal by January 2021; the transaction’s financial terms were not disclosed.