We are a a translational research laboratory with faculty members and students from physics, radiology, applied sciences, and biomedical engineering at UNC Chapel Hill.  We develop imaging and radiotherapy technologies using the unique carbon nanotube field emission x-ray source arrays invented and developed in our lab. In the last few years we have developed several medical and dental imaging devices including stationary 3D mammography, intraoral tomosynthesis, stationary chest tomosynthesis, and physiologically gated micro-CT; and demonstrated laboratory scale microbeam radiation therapy. Our research has led to over 40 issued U.S. patents and several startup companies. 


Commercial production of the CNT x-ray source array developed in our lab by NuRay




Carbon nanotube field emission x-ray 


The idea of using a CNT field emission cathode to generate x-ray radiation came from a casual lunch conversation between two young professors almost twenty years ago. The idea was simply and a laboratory demonstration was straightforward, but making the technology viable for clinical and industrial applications has been a long journey. 


Today, the CNT x-ray sources are commercially manufactured by a startup company that has licensed our technology (www.nuraytech.com) and are used for medical imaging and security inspections. 


Examples of X-ray imaging & radiotheray devices

developed in our lab

20180410 Radiology Photos-2 2.jpg

Intraoral tomosynthesis

In collaboration with colleagues at the UNC School of Density we developed a stationary intraoral tomosynthesis device using a CNT x-ray source array, intraoral sensor, and fast iterative reconstruction that provides quasi 3D and high resolution images using similar radiation dose and imaging time as a 2D radiograph. 

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

120 East Cameron Street

Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3255

Phone: (919)962-3297: Email: zhou@email.unc.edu


3D Mammography

Stationary digital breast tomosynthesis (s-DBT) increases the image resolution by eliminating image blur caused by x-ray source motion, increases the imaging speed, and potentially reduces imaging dose be removing the need for 2D mammography

Microbeam radiation therapy (MRT)

MRT is an experimental radiotherapy technique that has been shown in small animal brain tumor models to be effective in eradicating tumor while sparing the normal tissues. All current MRT experiments rely on synchrotron radiation as the microbeam irradiator. We are developing a benchtop image guided microbeam irradiator for small animal irradiation