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The novel 3D X-ray technology developed through a collaboration between University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill scientists is looking to identify dental issues earlier with more detail and less radiation, improving the quality of dental care. UNC professors Otto Zhou and Jianping Lu spent 20 years refining the X-ray source technology that is smaller, faster, safer and sharper. Along with Zhou, a team of researchers from UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, the UNC/NCSU Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, and the Adams School of Dentistry’s Department of Diagnostic Sciences Section of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology worked to develop and patent the technology. 

Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the 3D X-ray device called PORTRAY and a company named Surround Medical Systems located in the Research Triangle Park plans to make the device available to dental professionals. “It’s very gratifying,” says Zhou. “It’s rare you see a new technology that you envision from basically a rough sketch on a piece of paper 20 years ago, after going through a lot of ups and downs, to move to the clinic and now benefit patients. That’s a big accomplishment for everyone involved in this process. This is a good example of where it requires input from everyone from different walks of life and from different academic disciplines.” The team included researchers with diverse sets of expertise: Jianping Lu, Christina Inscoe, Jing Shan and Gongting Wu from the physics and astronomy department; Andrew Tucker, Pavel Chtcheprov and Conner Puett, now alumni from the biomedical engineering department; and Enrique Platin, Andre Mol, Lars Gaalaas, Angela Broome, Sally Mauriello, Robert Hilton, Brandon Johnson, Colin LaPrade, Peter Green and Lisa Perrone at the dental school. To read the full article, please visit Innovate Carolina’s website here.

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