State-of-the-art functional X-ray facility online in NPRE

10/16/2015 Susan Mumm, Editor

Written by Susan Mumm, Editor

State-of-the-art functional X-ray facility online in NPRE


Associate Prof. Ling-Jian Meng, foreground, with his graduate students Jonathan George and Luca Giannoni, with the FXIL facility.

NPRE’s Radiation Imaging Group now has online a new, state-of-the-art functional X-ray imaging facility.


“The new Functional X-ray Imaging Lab (FXIL) is very comprehensively equipped and is one-of-a-kind in the world,” said NPRE Associate Prof. Ling-Jian Meng, who invites other researchers at Illinois to make use of the facility.

The NPRE Department and a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health provided funding for Meng’s team to construct FXIL, housed in Talbot Laboratory on the Urbana campus. The facility consists of a walk-in closet equipped with four different X-ray sources, a wide variety of X-ray imaging and spectroscopic detectors, an optical photon imaging camera based on state-of-the-art intensified EMCCD detectors, and potentially a regular emission tomography system integrated ion beam line.

FXIL offers highly unique X-ray imaging techniques for a wide range of biomedical imaging applications, including micro X-ray computed tomography (CT), X-ray florescent CT (XFCT), X-ray luminescent CT (XLCT) and nanobeam therapy. It can be used in microbiology and nano-medicine, potentially novel bio-imaging technologies, and to monitor cancer micro-biology, Meng said.

FXIL will allow Meng’s team and his collaborators to study X-ray induced/modulated anti-cancer therapeutic techniques. With the strong X-ray beam tuned at specific X-ray energies, one could selectively stimulate a micro-area around or inside a tumor tissue. This stimulation could trigger a local therapeutic effect by releasing anti-cancer drugs that specifically designed nanoparticles carry to the target.

“With the bench-top system, we can focus the beam to stimulate an area as small as 30 microns in diameter,” Meng said. “We are exploring a combined X-ray photodynamic therapy and localized X-ray imaging strategy that could allow researchers to visualize the exact therapeutic delivery process, and potentially the inhomogeneous response of the tumor to the treatment.”

Meng further plans to use the facility as a teaching device in the current NPRE 435 Radiological Imaging course. He also plans to use the FXIL for a new lab course that is currently under development.

Share this story

This story was published October 16, 2015.