Solid state medical imaging: what’s new?
Ahead of the inaugural MediSens clinical imaging technology conference in London (12-14 December), we interview our guest speakers and advisory board members, industry professionals with profound experience of the technologies deployed in medical imaging.
Jérome Mouly is a Technology & Market Analyst specializing in Medtech at Yole Développement, the “More than Moore” market research and strategy consulting company. View full profile here
His session, “What’s going on in the world of solid state medical imaging?” takes place on the second day of the conference, on Wednesday 14 December.
What area of science or industry fascinates you the most for applications related to your own expertise?
Who wouldn’t be fascinated nowadays by innovations related to connected devices and the commoditization of technologies that used to be confined to high-end research centers? Smart systems are entering our daily lives, our daily activities. And we can definitely expect much more in the years to come.
From consumer monitoring data and stationary medical homecare devices for cardio monitoring, through to surgical robots for remote surgery, smart systems will help us to manage our well-being and healthcare.
At Yole Développement (Yole), we consider smart systems to be a wonderful combination of mature semiconductor technologies, innovative advanced system-level integration and a great diversity of applications.
Why is the field of medical imaging so fascinating right now?
The ability to see inside and through the body without opening up the patient is already fascinating. Just imagine how revolutionary Rontgen’s innovation was in 1895… The scientist developed an ingenious X-ray approach to explore our bodies and directly observe our bones.
The possibility of viewing high-resolution images through a sub-millimeter piece of silicon is all the more fascinating – and it is happening today.
Medical imaging development allows doctors and researchers to define new medical examinations thanks to high-performance equipment with less invasive devices:
- For example, “simple” camera pills based on the latest CMOS image sensor technologies enable endoscopic diagnoses.
- X-ray applications draw from high-performance computing platforms to provide 3D reconstructed images of the patient’s body while decreasing their dose of ionized radiation.
The combination of solid state imaging and computing capabilities is currently changing the game in medical imaging: CMOS image sensor technologies are a good example. According to Yole, the solid state sensors’ market for medical applications should reach US$2 billion by 2021, covering US$20 billion of the medical equipment market.
How important will sensor fusion, or mixed mode imaging systems be in the future?
The added-value of CMOS technologies has been revealed by mixed-mode imaging systems. Indeed, combining nuclear detection and magnetic resonance in PET/MRI was impossible until now, due to the use of photomultiplier tubes and their high sensibility to magnetic fields. Today, with the development of CMOS technologies, the silicon photomultipliers proposed by SensL and Hamamatsu, for example, are not affected by magnetic fields and allow mixed mode imaging. Furthermore, CMOS technologies permit a higher level of miniaturization for more integrated equipment.
What businesses or technologies from other industries would be exciting for the clinical technology sector, and why?
Clearly, single photon imaging is the next step forward. Currently developed for interventional purposes, this technology could ultimately replace emCCDs and sCMOS in the near future. Moreover, it should also play a key role in radiology.
What can clinical imaging technologists learn from the past decade of change in the print industry?
Prior to the development of comprehensive knowledge focused on the medical imaging sector, Yole expanded its expertise to silicon-based printheads for printing applications. As we note in the medical market segment, the printing industry took the path of digital imaging with the help of disruptive CMOS and MEMS technologies.
Digital imaging demonstrates numerous benefits. It allows increased resolution, more flexibility in use, including personalization on pictures, printed textiles, etc., and availability for point of need applications. The high demand from the consumer market segment for home printers has led to high-resolution devices at competitive prices. And the industrial sector is reaping the benefits of this price decrease.
Significant similarities can be found between the two industries. Endoscopy systems are a good example: CMOS image sensor technologies developed for smart phone applications have given this equipment access to highly miniaturized devices at a relatively low cost in recent years. Moreover, it is now possible to use disposable endoscopes for single-use diagnostics, just like disposing of print cartridges with attached silicon printheads.
The conference is focused on imaging devices, but other semiconductors are part of the process too – can you talk us through some of them?
According to Yole’s analysts, the next technical revolution will mainly concern actuators. Power electronics for example will play a predominant role in the medical field; it will change the way radiation or lasers are produced.
Technical advances in robotics are also part of the revolution by combining sensors, power electronics and computing. Microfluidics is another example using semiconductor processes but not necessarily with a semiconductor substrate. In addition to data handling, all these innovations will create new opportunities, and that is what Medisens is all about.
Can you compare and contrast the pace of development in optical imaging and X-ray imaging?
Optical imaging and X-ray imaging do not face the same requirements and challenges, especially at detector level.
Globally, X-ray detectors are dedicated to low-volume and high-value applications. Optical imaging on the other hand is showing high volume relative to medical imaging applications, with lower value applications. X-ray imaging is mainly driven by lower doses and fast data acquisition for patient safety. The X-ray CMOS device market is mainly a replacement market for a-Si or CCD based cameras. In some X-ray applications, like intra-oral devices, CMOS X-ray detectors are widely adopted. X-rays could represent great market opportunities in terms of value. Teledyne Dalsa, Tower Jazz, e2v and X-Fab are a few examples of companies positioned on CMOS front-end manufacturing. These results are included in Yole’s reports and consulting studies.
Optical imaging is mainly driven by miniaturization and increased image performances. Compared to the X-ray industry, CMOS-based devices are not only replacing CCD cameras but are also intended for new application opportunities like camera pills and disposable endoscopes developed by Given Imaging, Olympus or Medigus. The number of endoscopy CMOS sensor manufacturers is constantly increasing. Yole lists for example Tower Jazz and Sony, who are developing 4K CMOS image sensors, as well as Omnivision, ON semiconductor and many others….
Finally, what are you hoping to learn from your participation at MediSens?
MediSens aims to bring end-users and medical imaging solution makers closer. This event is a great opportunity for our company to meet key players and exchange with them.
Yole’s medical technologies activities follow the industry all along its supply chain. The “More than Moore” company continuously improves its expertise and enlarges it with new topics of investigation, covering technical innovations, mergers and acquisitions and market trends. MediSens will clearly help us to identify and understand market needs and analyze technical issues.
Today, our team is combining a “bottom-up” methodology, taking into account innovative technologies’ business opportunities and a “top-down” analysis, more focused on the market needs from the applications side. By bringing together medical imaging end-users and solution markers, MediSens is undoubtedly the place to be.
About the speaker:
Jerôme Mouly serves as a Technology & Market Analyst specialized in microtechnologies for biomedical & medical imaging applications at Yole Développement, the “More than Moore” market research and strategy consulting company. Since 2000, Jérôme has participated in more than 100 marketing and technological analyses for industrial groups, start-ups and institutes related to semiconductor & medical technologies industry. Jérôme holds a Master of Physics from the University of Lyon.
About Yole Développement – www.yole.fr
Founded in 1998, Yole Développement has grown to become a group of companies providing marketing, technology and strategy consulting, media and corporate finance services. With a strong focus on emerging applications using silicon and/or micro manufacturing, the Yole Développement group has expanded to include more than 50 collaborators worldwide covering MEMS, Compound Semiconductors, LED, Displays, Image Sensors, Optoelectronics, Microfluidics & Medical, Advanced Packaging, Manufacturing, Nanomaterials, Power Electronics and Batteries & Energy Management.
The “More than Moore” company Yole, along with its partners System Plus Consulting, Blumorpho and KnowMade, support industrial companies, investors and R&D organizations worldwide to help them understand markets and follow technology trends to grow their business.
- Consulting & Financial Services: Jean-Christophe Eloy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Reports: David Jourdan (email@example.com)
- Press Relations & Corporate Communication: Sandrine Leroy (firstname.lastname@example.org
 CMOS : Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor
 Source: Status of the CMOS Image Sensor Industry 2016: New Market and Technology Dynamics report, Yole Développement, June. 2016
 PET-MRI: Positron Emission Tomography – Magnetic Resonance Imaging
 CCD : Charge-Coupled Detector
 MEMS: Micro-electro Mechanical Systems
 Acquired by Medtronic in 2014