Home Radiation Groningen start-up QDI uses quantum dots to create sharper X-ray images with less radiation

Groningen start-up QDI uses quantum dots to create sharper X-ray images with less radiation


Whether screening for breast cancer or a broken bone, x-rays provide insight into the condition of the body, making it an essential part of healthcare. But x-rays are harmful if you are exposed to them too often and for too long. The Dutch start-up QDI from Groningen is working on an alternative. This involves what is called quantum dots which provide razor-sharp images that require less radiation.

Innovations are already happening in the X-ray market. For example, NXP manufactures special chips that improve the sharpness of images. But the application of quantum dots in healthcare is new. These points, made of lead sulfideare already widely used in physics experiments, but also seem ideal for use in hospitals as they can absorb X-rays. This allows the X-ray machine sensor to take sharper images while minimizing the use of harmful radiation.

“With X-rays, it’s often a trade-off between a good quality image and the lowest possible dose the patient is exposed to,” says CEO and Founder Artem Shulga. “For example, a technique on the market provides clear images, but is incredibly expensive. Another technique is less expensive, but in turn is more harmful to the patient. We are still in the research phase but have already built a number of sensors that work based on this technique. So far, lab results show that our technique outperforms current traditional techniques. »

Breast cancer screening

Shulga will be the first to use the new breast cancer screening technique. In a mammogram, X-rays are taken of the breast to screen for breast cancer. The photo shows connective tissue, adipose tissue, and glandular and breast tissue. A mammogram therefore gives a first impression of possible abnormalities.

“This particular application involves a specific type of X-ray, where you’re using specialized equipment,” says Shulga. “This equipment is capable of taking very high resolution pictures of the breast. It is because doctors need to be able to see all the details of the breasts that they can do a thorough examination. We can facilitate this without using a lot of radiation. So this is where the future of our technology lies. We are currently developing a sensor with the same degree of resolution, but smaller in size. I hope we will soon manage to partner with a big manufacturing company and launch our sensor in the market. »


Founded in Groningen, a program for innovative entrepreneurs, start-ups and scale-ups in the city and province of Groningen, has already played an important role in finding partners and investors so far. “They put us in touch with the RFO and we went to the”Melted snow!event in Helsinki last December. It was a great opportunity to network, talk to other founders and lots of investors. Additionally, Founded in Groningen connected us with many investors interested in QDI to help take the technology to the next level.

Even more uses

The sensor could potentially be used for other medical applications. For example, by dentists, to be able to take sharper images of teeth, but with a lower radiation dose. X-rays are an essential part of the treatment plan and give the dentist insight into the condition of the teeth and gums. However, the application is not limited to healthcare. “We can also possibly use our sensor in the field of security, for example. Sky is the limit.”

Improve technology

For Shulga, product development cannot go fast enough. “We just don’t have enough hours in the day to be able to do all the things we would like to do.” Currently, the technical team is made up of four people. “Working in a small team is nice and efficient, but the fifth should join us soon, because we still have a lot of ideas to develop.”

On the one hand, the technology still needs to be improved before the start-up can enter the market. “To make our product suitable for industry, for example, we still need to improve things when it comes to leaks. These may affect the image. And we also need to make sure there is no lag in the frames.

QDI’s technology will be further developed this year. “And we hope to test under ‘real world’ conditions next year.”

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