Have you ever observed a fighter jet at its most agile, flying impossibly tight curves, accelerating and decelerating so fast it makes your head spin? Or did you ever wonder how a 500-ton plane can be lifted into the air? Modern aircrafts require extremely powerful and efficient engines. Deep inside those engines you find special turbine blades spinning in truly hellish conditions. Temperatures climb into thousands of degrees Celsius, and the force tearing at those blades is equivalent to the weight of a large truck.
A class of materials that can withstand such forces are single crystal alloys. Small defects in the crystalline structure of these alloys can weaken the stability of the material. Thus, manufacturers regularly inspect such turbine blades for crystalline defects using Laue diffraction. Hybrid Photon Counting detectors speed up such tests by an order of magnitude in any diffractometer geometry: side-reflection, back-reflection and transmission. In HPC detectors, each pixel is its own detector equipped with a dedicated threshold to reject noise and low energy X-rays. HPC detectors acquire images noise-free, with an unlimited dynamic range and a single-pixel point spread function.
These properties give the detector an unmatched signal-to-noise performance. Especially in transmission geometry, when much of the X-rays are absorbed in the dense and thick alloys, signal-to-noise performance is a real issue. HPC detectors enable the generation of quality test images using a five times weaker X-ray signal compared to conventional, integrating detectors. Tests can thus be done much faster and for thicker samples.
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