Exploiting the Time Domain in X-rays: The Modulated X-ray Source and its Diverse Applications


X-rays are valued in astronomy as probes of energetic phenomena in the Universe, in medical imaging for their ability to penetrate soft tissue, and in materials analysis because they reveal physical and chemical properties of substances in commercial and research applications.

Conventional X-ray generators are limited in their ability to rapidly vary their output intensity or photon energy, especially in compact, portable configurations. We describe a miniature, low-power, lightweight, and rugged X-ray source that can be arbitrarily modulated in intensity from completely off to full intensity on nanosecond timescales, for a broad range of X-ray energies.

NASA applications include calibration of cameras for future space-based X-ray telescopes. For use on Earth, the Modulated X-ray Source (MXS) promises precise dose control for medical X-ray applications and novel analysis techniques in industrial and laboratory settings.


Dr. Keith Gendreau
Goddard Space Flight Center

Darryl Mitchell
Innovative Technology Partnerships Office
Goddard Space Flight Center

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