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Fluorescent screens

Fluorescent screens consist of phosphor particles dispersed in a binder and coated

on a reflecting, supporting base. The basic function of Fluorescent screens is to convert
X-rays to light. This happens in three steps as shown in figure 1.

1. Absorbed –ray energy is converted to high energy free electrons.

2. Part of the kinetic energy of the high energy electron sis used to excite other
electrons to excited states within the phosphor material.
3. Light emission occurs when the excited electrons return to their normal state.


photon Base
Reflective layer


Protective coating

Light emission

Excited grain
Absorption of light photon

Figure 1: Structure of typical X-ray intensifying screen and typical paths

followed by light photons.

Light emitted simultaneously with the excitation energy (X-ray absorption) is called
fluorescence. By contrast, light that persists after the excitation source is removed is
called phosphorescence.

Fluorescent screens are characterized by their efficiency, spectral emission,

persistence, unsharpness and gamma. The overall efficiency of the screen in converting
X-ray to light is composed of three terms.

1. The fraction of incident X-rays absorbed by the screen.

2. The X-ray of light conversion efficiency, and
3. The light transmission efficiency.

Although the spectral emission of phosphors is broadband, it is distinguished by a

maximum intensity at a characteristic wavelength. The spectral emission should be
matched to the application, whether the human eye in a direct viewing system, a low light
level camera or a photocathode for an image intensifier tube.

Persistence of a fluorescent screen is the amount of time it continues to emit light

following excitation. Some persistence curves have an exponential decay, whereas others
have long decay tails. The persistence, particularly with rapid decay phosphors, can vary
significantly depending on the purity and the manufacturing process.

Unsharpness in images formed by fluorescent screens is primarily a function of

the grain size of the phosphor and the screen thickness, increasing as the parameters
increase. Light transmission characteristics of the screen can also affect the unsharpness.
Figure 2.1 illustrates how unsharpness can affect the detection of a sharp edge
discontinuity by spreading the edge shape.
Here, C represents the contrast in percentage of brightness change, d represents
width of the discontinuity and U represents screen unsharpness. For fixed value of U, a
change in contrast C produces a change in the slope of the unsahrp edge. It can be seen
from figure 2.2 that when d is smaller than 2U, the discontinuity will vanish unless C1 is
above the minimum observable level. The following relationship may be obtained from
the figure 2.
d = 2 C1 U / C for C1 < C

Typical values of screen unsharpness for commercially available screens vary

from 0.50 to 1.0 mm (0.020 to 0.040in.).

The fluorescent screen gamma is a measure of the contrast ratios between the
output screen image brightness and the input radiation intensity. As in film radiography,
the output image must have a minimum brightness ratio between adjacent areas for
detection. For most screens at industrial energies, the screen gamma is very close to 1.0.
Therefore the screen itself is very seldom the limiting factor as far as the total system
gamma is concerned.




Figure 2.1


Figure 2.2

C = contrast
C1 = minimum observable brightness difference
D = dimension
U = screen unsharpness

Figure 2: Effect of unsharpness on discontinuity detection.

2.1 spread of edge shape
2.2 discontinuity above minimum contrast level