Innovation award for DESY start-up

Spin-off X-Spectrum GmbH awarded for high-speed X-ray camera


Die Mitarbeiter von X-Spectrum bei der Auszeichnung auf dem Hamburg Innovation Summit (Foto: Anne Gaertner, TUHH).


The sensitive area (front) of the LAMBDA detector is equipped with 750 000 pixels. (Credit: X-Spectrum GmbH)

With an innovative high-speed X-ray camera, the DESY spin-off X-Spectrum GmbH has won the Hamburg Innovation Award in the category Start. The newly developed camera enables cutting-edge research in a fraction of the time previously needed, as the jury emphasized. The company's founders received the award at the Hamburg Innovation Summit.

X-Spectrum was founded last year by five members of the DESY detector development group, with DESY being the sixth associate of this new enterprise. The scientists developed a fast X-ray camera with high resolution named LAMBDA (Large Area Medipix Based Detector Array). The large active area of the LAMBDA detector with the size of about nine by three centimetres is equipped with 750 000 pixels and takes up to 2000 images per second. Each pixel performs single light particle (photon) counting, but can also handle rates of more than 500 000 photons per second. This very high dynamic range is complemented with the possibility to measure the energy of the detected X-ray particles, i.e. practically taking colour pictures.

“High sensitivity, high resolution, high frame rate – thus, the detector precisely fulfils the requirements scientists put on new generation synchrotron radiation detectors,” said Heinz Graafsma, DESY scientist and one of the X-Spectrum managing directors. “Moreover, the detector is suitable for photon energies up to about 100 kilo-electronvolts.” Such high energy radiation is generated for example at DESY's X-ray source PETRA III. For comparison: This is about 40 000 times higher than the energy of visible light, which is for example recorded by the chip of an average digital camera.

Despite its power, the detector does not need special cooling. “Practically, the whole detector is a plug&play system which only requires convection cooling,” emphasises Stefanie Jack, second managing director of X-Spectrum. “We hope that the easy handling, combined with the excellent specifications, will make the detector a success in X-ray research worldwide.”

The jury of the Hamburg Innovation Awards rated customer benefit of the product, target market, marketing activities, corporate structure and social and environmental aspects. “According to the jury, X-Spectrum has achieved the best combination of these important aspects of the company's success among all finalists in the competition,” the organizers of the award, the Hamburg TuTech Innovation GmbH, pointed out.

The award is presented annually in the categories Idea, Start and Growth. The category Idea is aimed at those who have an innovative product or service idea or are at an early start-up phase. The category Start addresses companies younger than five years whose innovative product or service is already on the market. The award in the category Growth goes to an already established company nominated by selected partner institutions from the start-up scene.

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