Positrons as imaging agents and probes in nanotechnology

Suzanne V. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Positron emission tomography (PET) tracks a positron emitting radiopharmaceutical injected into the body and generates a 3-dimensional image of its location. Introduced in the early 70s, it has now developed into a powerful medical diagnostic tool for routine clinical use as well as in drug development. Unrivalled as a highly sensitive, specific and non-invasive imaging tool, PET unfortunately lacks the resolution of Computer Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). As the resolution of PET depends significantly on the energy of the positron incorporated in the radiopharmaceutical and its interaction with its surrounding tissue, there is growing interest in expanding our understanding of how positrons interact at the atomic and molecular level. A better understanding of these interactions will contribute to improving the resolution of PET and assist in the design of better imaging agents. Positrons are also used in Positron Annihilation Lifetime Spectroscopy (PALS) to determine electron density and or presence and incidence of micro- and mesopores (0.1 to 10 nm) in materials. The control of porosity in engineered materials is crucial for applications such as controlled release or air and water resistant films. Equally important to the design of nano and microtechnologies, is our understanding of the microenvironments within these pores and on surfaces. Hence as radiopharmaceuticals are designed to track disease, nuclear probes (radioactive molecules) are synthesized to investigate the chemical properties within these pores. This article will give a brief overview of the present role of positrons in imaging as well as explore its potential to contribute in the engineering of new materials to the marketplace.

Original languageEnglish
Article number012044
JournalJournal of Physics: Conference Series
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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