Routes towards 10ps in time-of-flight PET

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Stefan Gundacker (CERN)


Time-of-flight (TOF) is able to improve the noise equivalent count rate (NEC) of positron emission tomography (PET) drastically. For instance a TOF resolution of 100ps would represent a NEC improvement of about a factor 25 for a whole body PET system. With the image signal to noise ratio remaining constant, this already would lead to the possibility of a 5 times faster scanning time or 5 times less dose applied to the patient. Ultimately a TOF resolution of 10ps would not only improve the NEC by a further order of magnitude but would also allow for direct image reconstruction without computation delays. Furthermore, the standard circular PET geometry would not be a necessity anymore, allowing for efficient endoscopic PET probes. These examples show how 10ps in TOF-PET, very likely, will lead to a paradigm shift in PET examination routines. In this contribution state-of-the-art time resolutions achievable with current lab-systems will be shown and their limits in terms of resolving time explicitly discussed. Further, it will be shown how 10ps in TOF-PET can be achieved and practical examples of new materials and techniques allowing for this ambitious goal are given.

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