Detectors for Molecular Imaging Laboratory (DMIL)

The main interest of the Detectors for Molecular Imaging Group (DMIG) is focused on the design and development of new devices that efficiently image radiation emissions in the form of annihilation of positrons (Positron Emission Tomography, PET) and single emitted gamma rays, both in Tomography (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography, SPECT) and 2D planar imaging (Gamma Camera). The group has lately focus on the development of gamma ray detector blocks based on SiPM photosensors and LYSO monolithic scintillation crystals. We are the first group making it possible to accurately measure 511 keV impacts in the whole monolithic scintillation volume. New photosensors, readout techniques, as well as crystal types are always under investigation. The goals of our research are to design devices beyond the current state-of-the–art instrumentation, in terms of sensitivity, spatial, energy, and temporal resolutions.
The group is working on different fields such as crystals types and treatments, readout electronics, data acquisition systems, simulations, detectors characterization, timing resolution experiments, to name but a few. In the following there is a summary of most relevant projects where most of these fields play a role.

Members

  • Antonio J. González, PhD, Group leader
  • José M. Benlloch, PhD, Prof.
  • Filomeno Sánchez, PhD, Senior
  • Andrea González, PhD, PostDoc
  • John Barrio, PhD, PostDoc
  • Victor Ilisie, PhD, PostDoc
  • Georgios Konstantinou, PhD, PostDoc
  • David Sánchez, Post-doc researcher
  • Marta Freire, PhD student
  • Gabriel Cañizares, PhD student
  • Celia Valladares, PhD student
  • Riccardo Latella, PhD student
  • Neus Cucarella, Master Degree
  • Sara Echegoyen, Master Degree
  • Koldo Vidal, Mechanical R&D support

Team members

Antonio J. Gonzalez, PhD, Group leader

Research Staff at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), at the Institute for Instrumentation in Molecular Imaging. PhD in Physics by the University of Heidelberg (Germany), worked carried out at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics. He started the research on molecular imaging instrumentation in 2006. He obtained a Ramon y Cajal grant in 2015, and a permanent position at CSIC in 2017. Scientifically coordinated the EU projects MAMMI (FP6) and MINDView (FP7). He recently obtained an NIH R01 award as co-PI. He is leading the Detectors for Molecular Imaging Lab (DMIL).

email: agonzalez@i3m.upv.es


Filomeno Sanchez, PhD, Senior

Dr. Filomeno Sánchez Martínez received his PhD in Physics at the University of Valencia in 1989. He has a permanent position as Research Scientist of the Spanish Council for Scientific Research. Since 2000 is a member of the Physics Medicine Group at the i3M. Recently, he participated in the EU project MINDVIEW. He was the coordinator of the Cardio-PET project, a specific PET system for studying human heart under stress conditions, ended in December 2020. Currently he coordinates the DEEP-BREAST Project, for the development of a continuous edgeless crystal PET system for breast cáncer.

email: filsan@i3m.upv.es


Andrea Gonzalez-Montoro, PhD. Post-doc researcher

PhD in Physics from Universitat de València in 2018 and BSc in Physics (2010-2014) from Universitat de València. Her PhD studies are on the design and implementation of high efficiency PET detector blocks based on monolithic crystals, she defended her thesis on December 2018 with Cum Laude and International Recognition. She was granted with one “Contrato de Garantia Juvenil del CSIC”. In 2020, she was awarded with the “2020 IEEE/NPSS Ronald J. Jaszczak Graduate Award” that recognizes the excellence of young researchers and she was also granted with one APOSTD to continue her postdoctoral studies in collaboration with the i3M and the group at Stanford University.

email: andrea.gm@i3m.upv.es


John Barrio, PhD. Post-doc researcher

He obtained his PhD in Physics from the Universitat de València in 2017. The work was developed at the Instituto de Física Corpuscular (IFIC, Valencia) with an “Atracció de Talent” fellowship. The main topic of the thesis was the development of new gamma-ray detectors based on monolithic scintillator crystals coupled to Silicon Photomultipliers (SiPMs) for medical physics applications, mainly for PET and hadrontherapy. In 2018, he joined i3M as a post-doctoral researcher to work in the instrumentation part of the ERC Advanced Grant “4DPET Innovative PET scanner for dynamic imaging”, developing new PET instrumentation capable of using Time of Flight (TOF) and Compton information.

email: jbarrio@i3m.upv.es


Victor Ilisie, PhD. Post-doc researcher

BSc in Physics and MSc in Advanced Physics at the Universitat Politècnica de València. PhD in High Energy Theoretical Physics from the Universitat de València (2016) carried out at the Instituto de Física Corpuscular (IFIC, Valencia). Post-doctoral researcher at i3M since 2017, his area of research is the design and development of new PET, SPECT and Gamma Camera instrumentation, Monte Carlo simulations, data analysis and image reconstruction.

email: victor.ilisie@i3m.upv.es


Georgios Konstantinou, PhD. CTO, Multiwave Metacrystal S.A and post-doctoral researcher I3M.

Georgios is an electric and computer engineering graduate from the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA). After an internship and research engineer placement at CERN (Geneva, 2009-2013), he acquired his PhD from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (2014-2017), through an Early Stage Researcher Marie Sklodowska Curie fellowship. He has professional experience of intellectual property (European Patent Organization, 2017-2018) and start-up enterpreneurship (SensYnc, Multiwave Metacrystal, 2019-today). He currently holds a joint role as the technical executive of Multiwave and a post-doctoral researcher at the I3M.

email: yoconst@gmail.com


David Sánchez, Post-doc researcher

David Sanchez received his Degree in Physics from Universitat de Barcelona (UB) in 2014. At this time, he started working in the instrumentation service (SiUB) from the Physics Faculty at Universitat of Barcelona as a Research Associate. In the meantime he obtained his M.S. degree in Photonics from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) in 2015. In 2016 started his Industrial PhD on Medical Image in collaboration with Hamamatsu and obtained the PhD in 2021. During this time, he was focused on the optimization of monolithic PET modules using SiPM and the ASIC HRFlexToT along with many other fast timing applications.

 

Marta Freire, PhD. Candidate

BSc in Physics and BSc in Materials Engineering at the Universidad de Sevilla. MSc in Medical Physics at the Universitat de València. PhD candidate at i3M since 2019, funded by a grant of the Generalitat Valenciana. Her area of research is the implementation of new algorithms including machine learning techniques among others, for an accurate gamma-ray impact determination in scintillation monolithic blocks for PET applications.

email: mfreire@i3m.upv.es


Gabriel Cañizares, PhD. Candidate

He studied Physics degree at Universidad de Valencia, and the Master of Medical Physics. PhD student with a CSIC FPI grant. He collaborates in the area of Simulation, data processing and Image Reconstruction. PhD candidate in Technologies for Health and Wellbeing at the UPV.

email: gacale@i3m.upv.es


Celia Valladares de Francisco, PhD. Candidate

BSc in Industrial Technologies Engineering specialized in Electronics at Universidad de Sevilla, MSc Industrial Engineering specialized in Product Development at the UPV. PhD candidate in Technologies for Health and Wellbeing at the UPV. At i3M since 2020, her area of research is the development of new PET instrumentation with time of flight (TOF) capabilities based on pixelated crystals and Silicon Photomultipliers (SiPMs). Celia has just started his PhD work at the DMIL team.

email: cvalladares@i3m.upv.es



Riccardo Latella, R&D Engineer at Multiwave Metacrystal S.A and PhD. Candidate

BSc and MSc in Electronics Engineer at the Polytechnic of Milan (Italy). After an internship as an Analog Designer in Infineon Technologies where he designed a multi-chip low-side laser driver in a System On Package for LiDAR Applications, he continued to work for one year in the same company as a Test Engineer. His current position focuses on research, design and development of ultimate timing testing setups and metascintillator read-out systems in a joint role as R&D Engineer at Multiwave Metacrystal and Ph.D. student at I3M.

email: riccardo@metacrystal.ch



Neus Cucarella, Garantía Juvenil Contract

BSc in Physics and MSc in Medical Physics at the Universitat de València. She was granted with a “Garantía Juvenil” contract in 2018 in the DMIL group, where she has been working in PET instrumentation based on Silicon Photomultipliers (SiPMs), including time of flight (TOF) and Compton information.

email: ncucarella@i3m.upv.es



Sara Echegoyen, Garantía Juvenil Contract

Bsc in Physics at the University of Valencia. MSc in Medical Physics at the University of València. During her MSc, she did extracurricular practices in Radiological Protection in Centro Nacional de Dosimetría. Since 2020, she is working at the group of Detector for Molecular Imaging Laboratory (DMIL) as part of “Garantía Juvenil”contract (CSIC). Her works here focuses on data analysis and optical coupling measurements.

Email: sechegoyen@i3m.upv.es



Koldo Vidal, Senior R&D Engineer

Higher Industrial Engineer (1992) from the Polytechnic University of Valencia. In 2006 he joined the IFIC Medical Physics Group in the Mechanical Technical Support tasks. Since 2011, with the creation of the Institute for Instrumentation and Molecular Imaging (I3M), he has developed my Mechanical Technical Support functions at the Institute mainly in the Detectors for Molecular Imaging Laboratory.

Email: koldo@i3m.upv.es

Projects

Ongoing projects

ScintoTube. Fabrication and Testing of a Novel PET insert for Simultaneous PET/MRI. 1R01EB029450-01

Dr. Antonio J. Gonzalez has been granted for NIH (National Institute of Health) to run the project ScintoTube in collaboration with the University of Virginia and Bruker. The main objective of this project is to develop a PET insert for small animals based on a novel design concept using a single scintillator crystal annulus, instead of typical modular pieces, thus improving the system sensitivity and spatial resolution.

I3M is currently designing the first prototype. A flexible PCB has been developed and is now under mounting. Simulations are also being started.

HyPET Project

The long term goal of this project, in a collaboration grant from NIH between the University of Washington and i3M, is to develop imaging technology that will replace biopsy as the gold standard for PCa diagnosis and staging. The goal of this R21 project is to develop advanced PET detector imaging technology that will enable the industrial transfer of moderate cost, high image resolution, prostate specific PET imaging systems. A two panel detector geometry will be utilized. To support artifact-free prostate imaging, the panel detectors will support time-of-flight (TOF) PET imaging with a goal of <150 psec coincidence timing resolution. To accomplish this goal, a hybrid PET (HyPET) detector will be developed with sub-units that will meet or exceed the overall design goals. We proposed two specific aims. The first was to use Monte Carlo simulation to optimize the blending of HyPET detectors for high spatial resolution, artifact-free imaging for a two curved panel based, prostate, specific PET imaging system.

The second aim was to build and experimentally characterize prototype HyPET detectors.

Development of a continuous edgeless crystal PET system for breast cancer. (DEEP-BREAST)

In this project we propose to build a novel continuous-scintillator PET scanner devoted to breast cancer diagnostic and therapy follow-up. This new concept of PET is designed to perform better than the current PET scanners in terms of sensitivity, spatial resolution, and uniformity throughout its field of view. Our proposed scanner effectively removes the modular concept used so far in PET scanners by using a cylindrical shaped tube that removes the physical breaks among rings and modules, and in the case of monolithic scintillator PET designs, the undesired crystal edge distortions always present in these kind of scanners.

The proposed design will provide high spatial resolution of ~1 mm and unlike all other existing scanners, will maintain this resolution throughout the entire field of view. To obtain the positions of the gamma ray interactions, Deep learning techniques will be developed. Specific algorithms based on deep learning tools and techniques have to be tested and implemented in the project. It has been shown that deep learning techniques have a great impact in medical imaging, including tomographic image reconstruction. Moreover, the novel design we propose to build and evaluate will be fully compatible with high magnetic fields, thus allowing simultaneous PET/MRI studies. In addition to the results related to the investigation carried out along the project period, it is also the aim of the researches to obtain applicable results which could be technologically transferred to the industry.

4D-PET: Innovative PET scanner for dynamic imaging

Prof. Benlloch has been granted with this ERC Advanced proposal. The main objective of 4D-PET is to develop an innovative whole-body PET scanner based in a new detector concept that stores 3D position and time of every single gamma interaction with unprecedented resolution. The combination of scanner geometrical design and high timing resolution will enable developing a full sequence of all gamma-ray interactions inside the scanner, including Compton interactions, like in a 3D movie. 4D-PET fully exploits Time Of Flight (TOF) information to obtain a better image quality and to increase scanner sensitivity, through the inclusion in the image formation of all Compton events occurring inside the detector, which are always rejected in state-of-the-art PET scanners.

At this moment, a first proof-of-concept prototype for brain mouse imaging is under development. It is based on two detector rings: an inner ring consisting of pixelated crystals that acts as a scatterer for Compton events and an outer ring consisting of arrays of slabs that acts as an absorber. For both rings, the photodetectors employed are SiPMs and the readout electronics is based on high-performance TOF ASICs. A full characterization of the detectors is being carried out. The preliminary Detector Time Resolution (DTR) of the inner and outer ring
is 110 and 230 ps FWHM, respectively.

Molecular imaging system for heart diagnostic under stress condition. TEC2016-79884-C2-2-R

In this project we plan to design and build a completely novel cardiac PET system that allows simultaneous PET scanning and patient movement. The system will allow us to visualize and measure function of the heart under stress conditions. The proposed system will deal with limited angle tomography, imposed by the specific geometry of the cardiac PET system we propose in this project, through outstanding TOF resolution.

image009-min

This project has beed co-financed by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Este proyecto ha sido co-financiado por la Unión Europea a través del Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional (FEDER).

Former projects

MindView

i3M coordinates an EU project of the FP7 program, called MindView. This a large project of 4 years timeframe with a strong consortium of 10 partners. The main technology goal of this project is the development of a high resolution PET insert, MR compatible, capable of simultaneous image acquisition, for Mental Disorders studies. The project includes clinical sites such as the Karolinska, the TUM-MED and the Uppsala University, but also referenced companies in this field as SensL, Noras, Bencar or Oncovision. Research institutions also participate as i3M, the Sapienza University and the Brest University.

PROSPET (DTS15/00152)

The main objective of the project PROSPET is to develop a reliable system for the diagnosis of Prostate Cancer (CaP) based on Molecular Imaging (MI). This is a project carried out together with the Hospital La Fe in Valencia. The system to be developed, is based on Positron Emission Tomography (PET) to increase efficiency in the detection and resolution by a factor 10 compared to current PET scanners. The TOF (time of flight) resolution will be approximately 300 ps allowing a significant improvement in the image contrast.

This project has beed co-financed by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Este proyecto ha sido co-financiado por la Unión Europea a través del Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional (FEDER).

Relevant Publications

Peer-reviewed publications:

Metascintillators for ultra-fast gamma detectors: a review of current state and future perspectives
G. Konstantinou, P. Lecoq, Member, IEEE, J.M. Benlloch and A.J. Gonzalez, Member, IEEE.

Evolution of PET Detectors and Event Positioning Algorithms Using Monolithic Scintillation Crystals
Andrea Gonzalez-Montoro, Antonio J. Gonzalez, Shirin Pourashraf, Robert S. Miyaoka, Peter Bruyndonckx, Garry Chinn, Larry A. Pierce, and Craig S. Levin.
IEEE Trans. Rad. Plasma Med. Scie. 2021.

Validation of photon collimation techniques for monolithic PET detector calibration
Andrea Gonzalez-Montoro, Larry A. Pierce II, William C.J. Hunter, Antonio J. González, and Robert S. Miyaoka
IEEE Trans. Rad. Plasma Med. Scie. Accepted 2020

Characterization of a preclinical PET insert in a 7 Tesla MRI scanner: beyond NEMA testing
Willy Gsell, Cesar Molinos, Carlos Correcher, Sarah Belderbos, Jens Wouters, Sven Junge, Michael Heidenreich, Greetje Vande Velde, Ahmadreza Rezaei, Johan Nuyts, Christopher Cawthorne, Frederik Cleeren, Lise Nannan, Christophe M Deroose, Uwe Himmelreich, and Antonio J Gonzalez
Physics in Medicine and Biology, 65, 245016, 2020

In-depth evaluation of TOF-PET detectors based on crystal arrays and the TOFPET2 ASIC
Efthymios Lamprou, Antonio J. Gonzalez, Filomeno Sanchez, and Jose M. Benlloch
Nuclear Instruments and Methods A 977, 164295, 2020

Pilot performance of a dedicated prostate PET suitable for diagnosis and biopsy guidance
Gabriel Cañizares, Andrea Gonzalez-Montoro, Marta Freire, Efthymios Lamprou, John Barrio, Filomeno Sanchez, Jose M. Benlloch, Liczandro Hernandez, Laura Moliner, Luis F. Vidal, Irene Torres, Pablo Sopena, Cesar D. Vera-Donoso, Pilar Bello, Amadeo Iborra, Julio Barbera and Antonio J. Gonzalez
European Journal Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging 7, 38, 2020.

Characterization of a high aspect ratio detector with lateral sides readout for Compton PET
John Barrio, Neus Cucarella, Antonio J. Gonzalez, Member, IEEE, Marta Freire, Victor Ilisie, and Jose M. Benlloch
IEEE Trans. Rad. Plas. Med. Scie., 4, 546, 2020

NEMA Performance Evaluation of CareMiBrain dedicated brain PET and Comparison with the wholebody and dedicated brain PET systems
Laura Moliner, Maria J. Rodríguez-Alvarez, Juan V. Catret, Antonio González, Víctor Ilisie and José M. Benlloch
Scientific Reports 9, 15484, 2019

High resolution and sensitivity gamma camera with active septa. A first Monte Carlo study
Victor Ilisie, Laura Moliner, Sandra Oliver, Filomeno Sánchez, Antonio J. González, Michael Seimetz, Maria J. Rodríguez-Álvarez and Jose Maria Benlloch
Scientific Reports 9, 18431, 2020

Calibration of Gamma Ray Impacts in Monolithic-Based Detectors Using Voronoi Diagrams
Marta Freire, Andrea Gonzalez-Montoro, Filomeno Sanchez, Jose M. Benlloch, Antonio J. Gonzalez
IEEE Trans. Rad. Plas. Med. Scie., 4, 350, 2020

TOF studies for dedicated PET with open geometries
Laura Moliner, Víctor Ilisie, Antonio J. Gonzalez, Sandra Oliver, Andrea Gonzalez-Montoro, Vicent Gimenez-Alventosa, Gabriel Cañizares, Efthimios Lamprou, Jorge Alamo, Filomeno Sanchez, Maria J. Rodriguez-Alvarez, and Jose M. Benlloch
Journal of Instruments 14, C02006, 2019

Exploring TOF Capabilities of PET Detector Blocks Based on Large Monolithic Crystals and Analog SiPMs
Efthymios Lamprou, Antonio J. Gonzalez, Filomeno Sanchez, and Jose M. Benlloch
Physica Medica 70, 10-18, 2019

Ensemble of neural networks for 3D position estimation in monolithic PET detectors
Iborra, A. J. Gonzalez, A. Gonzalez-Montoro, A. Bousse and D. Visvikis
Physics in Medicine and Biology 64, 195010, 2019.

Performance comparison of large-area SiPM arrays suitable for gamma ray detectors
Andrea Gonzalez-Montoro, and Antonio J. González
Biomed. Phys. Eng. Express 5 (2019) 045013

Novel method to measure the intrinsic spatial resolution in PET detectors based on monolithic crystals
Andrea Gonzalez-Montoro, Filomeno Sanchez, Peter Bruyndonckx, Gabriel Cañizares, Jose M. Benlloch, Antonio J. González
Nuclear Instruments and Methods A 920, 58-67, 2019

Feasibility Study of a Small Animal PET Insert Based on a Single LYSO Monolithic Tube
Antonio J. Gonzalez, Stuart S. Berr, Gabriel Cañizares, Andrea Gonzalez-Montoro, Abel Orero, Carlos Correcher, Ahmadreza Rezaei, Johan Nuyts, Filomeno Sanchez, Stan Majewski and Jose M. Benlloch
Front. Med., 28 November 2018 https://doi.org/10.3389/fmed.2018.00328

Initial Results of the MINDView PET Insert Inside the 3T mMR
Antonio J. Gonzalez, Andrea Gonzalez-Montoro, Luis F. Vidal, Julio Barbera, Sebastian Aussenhofer, Liczandro Hernandez, Laura Moliner, Filomeno Sanchez, Carlos Correcher, Edwin J. Pincay, Gabriel Cañizares, Efthymios Lamprou, Sebastian Sanchez, Juan V. Catret, Santiago Jiménez-Serrano, Jorge Cabello, Markus Schwaiger, Amadeo Iborra, Thibaut Merlin, Dimitris Visvikis and Jose M. Benlloch
IEEE Trans. Rad. Plas. Med. Scie., 3, 343, 2019

Organ-Dedicated Molecular Imaging Systems
Antonio J. Gonzalez, Filomeno Sanchez, and Jose M. Benlloch
IEEE Trans. Rad. Plas. Med. Scie. 2, 388, 2018.

PhD Thesis:

Efthymios Lamprou, Development and Performance Evaluation of High Resolution TOF-PET Detectors Suitable for Novel PET Scanners, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, 29-Jan 2021.

Sebastián Sánchez, Correcciones en Imagen y Reconstrucción PET,  Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, 14-Dec. 2020

Andrea Gonzalez Montoro, Characterization and development of new PET detectors MR compatible, Universidad de Valencia, 21-Dec. 2018

Pablo Conde Castellanos, Desarrollo de un sistema detector PET compatible con resonancia magnética, Universidad de Valencia, 14-Mar. 2017

Laura Moliner Martinez, Algoritmo list mode para tomógrafos PET de cristales continuos, Universidad de Valencia, 31-Oct. 2014

Abel Orero Palomares, Diseño e implementación de un SPECT pre-clínico basado en cristales continuos, Universidad de Valencia, 9-Nov. 2012

Antonio Peiró Cloquell, Sistema concentrador de luz para un detector híbrido PET-MR basado en cristales continuos y SiPM, Universidad Católica de Valencia, 3-Dec. 2012

Noriel Pavón Hernández, Diseño y desarrollo de una mini cámara gamma para uso intraquirúrgico, Universidad de Valencia, 12-Feb. 2010                

Ongoing PhD Thesis:

Gabriel Cañizares: Desarrollo del Hardware para Sistema de Diagnóstico por Imagen Molecular para Corazón en Condiciones de Estrés.

Marta Freire: Implementation of new algorithms for an accurate gamma-ray impact determination in scintillation monolithic blocks for PET applications.

Juan Catret: Desarrollo y evaluación clínica de un Tomógrafo por Emisión de Positrones dedicado al cerebro.

Celia Valladares: (to be determined)