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The course aims to provide the necessary knowledge of the operating principles of the instrumentation used in biomedical research and diagnostics. In particular, the students study the interactions of ionizing and non-ionizing radiation with matter and learn how to exploit them in imaging techniques. The knowledge of radiography and tomography with X and gamma rays, with magnetic resonance and ultrasound is acquired.

A - Knowledge and understanding
OF 1) To know the fundamentals of radiation-material interactions in biomedicine.
OF 2) To learn about physical methods for imaging and the biological effects of radiation in medicine.
OF 3) To understand image reconstruction algorithms in diagnostics and research.
OF 4) To know the equipments used for imaging in biomedicine.
OF 5) To understand radiation detectors in medicine.

B - Application skills
OF 6) To Know how to deduce the response of the detectors used in biomedicine.
OF 7) To be able to solve problems related to the interaction of ionizing radiation and matter.

C - Autonomy of judgment
OF 8) To be able to integrate the knowledge acquired in order to apply them for diagnostics and research in the health sector.

D - Communication skills

E - Ability to learn
OF 9) Have the ability to consult scientific articles in order to independently investigate topics in the health sector.
OF 10) Be able to conceive and develop a related diagnostic imaging project in biomedicine.




The course is aimed to acquire knowledge of physical principles and technologies behind the working of the equipments used in research and biomedical diagnostics. In particular, imaging techniques and instrumentation (imaging by x-rays, nuclear medicine imaging, magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound imaging) and their working principles are discussed. The topics include:
Interaction of ionizing radiation with matter:

General properties of ionizing radiations: corpuscular and electromagnetic radiations; Radioactivity and radioactive elements decay series; natural and artificial radioactive sources.

Interaction of radiation with matter: absorption of ionizing radiation. Effect of radiation at the molecular and cellular levels; brief introduction to the radiation dosimetry.
Imaging with ionizing radiation:
Imaging methods using X-ray: interaction with matter, source, detection, instrumentation and applications.
Projection imaging, computed tomography (CT scan), instrumentation and methods of image reconstruction.

Imaging with radioisotopes (in Brief): 

interaction with matter, source, detection, instrumentation and applications.
gamma camera (Anger camera), single photon emission tomography (SPECT), positron emission tomography (PET), instrumentation and methods.

Imaging with nuclear magnetic resonance (MRI): 
physical principles, instrumentation and applications

Ultrasound imaging:
Methods of imaging with ultrasound: sources, interaction with matter, detection, instrumentation and applications

Adopted texts

1) The Essential Physics of Medical Imaging

2) Medical Imaging Physics
William R. Hendee, E. Russell Ritenour


Apart from the suggested text books, additional study material is provided during the course.


It is important to have knowledge of the general properties of radiations.

Study modes

The course includes lectures in classroom and seminars on very specific topics of the course contents.

Exam modes

The final exam includes an oral test in which several questions are asked obtain in depth knowledge of all the topics covered in the program. During the course, midterm tests are conducted (generally presentations) contributing up to 1/3 of the overall evaluation.

The evaluation criteria is based on:
- the clarity and rigor of the presentation.
- the correctness of the concepts presented.
- analytical reasoning ability of theoretical concepts.
- attitude of problem solving.

Exam reservation date start Exam reservation date end Exam date
10/01/2022 19/01/2022 20/01/2022
20/01/2022 14/02/2022 15/02/2022
20/05/2022 14/06/2022 15/06/2022
20/06/2022 09/07/2022 10/07/2022
25/08/2022 12/09/2022 13/09/2022



The first part of the course will be dedicated to: (12 hours)

Detection systems for functional imaging (Nuclear medicine) X-gamma spectrometry with semiconductor and scintillation detectors. Photodetectors: PMT, SDD, SPD, APD, SiPM. Ideal and real spectrum of a detector, the detector response function due to X-gamma radiation transport. Detection efficiency, count rate, energy resolution, Pulse Height Linearity, calibration methods of a spectrometric detector. Measurement of radioactivity and dose spectrum relationship. Quality Assurance of radiation measurement systems. Application examples of gamma spectrometry in nuclear medicine. Operating principles of the Anger camera. Detection systems and methods of image production, passive collimation systems. Parallel collimators, slant, divergent, convergent, pinhole, spatial resolution and collimator response sensitivity, uniformity and position linearity response. Single photon Emission Tomography: SPET .

The second part of the course will be dedicated to: (12 hours)

Radioisotopic imaging and imaging principles in SPET. Scintillation crystals for SPET imaging. Image formation theory with the centroid method of scintillation light distribution. Photodetectors, continuous and pixellated scintillation crystals. Image formation from semiconductor single pixel read out and scintillation detection matrices.
PET Positron Emission Tomography. The scintillation crystals for PET. Basic principles of coincidence detection in the annihilation process. Reconstruction of PET images. Detection systems based on the scintillation light centroid method and systems based on direct reading from the crystal pixel. The concept of "block detector". PET based on continuous detection systems (Anger camera). Spatial and physical position resolution of the positron. The detection spatial resolution and factors influencing it: parallax, depth of interaction in the crystal and non-co-linearity of the annihilation photons. Sensitivity of PET, true coincidences, false and random. The development of systems based on ToF (Time of Flight). Three-dimensional two-dimensional acquisition of events. Features of commercial and research PET systems.

Adopted texts

Physics in Nuclear Medicine - by Drs. Simon R. Cherry, James A. Sorenson, and Michael E. Phelps 2012 Sounders Elsevier

The Physics of Medical X-Ray Imaging Bruce Hasegawa 1990; Medical Physics Pub. Co; Madison, WI (United States);

THE PHYSICS OF. MEDICAL IMAGING. Edited by. Steve Webb. Taylor &Francis Group. New York London

Radiation Detection and Measurement. Third Edition. Glenn F. Knoll John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New York/Chichester/Weinheim/Brisbane/Toronto/Singapore .


Basic knowledge of the following issues is important: Structure and Properties of the Nucleus, radioactivity, binding energies and nuclear forces. Radioactive decays, alpha, beta and gamma. Radioactive decay law and half-life

Study modes

• Lectures and training sessions with two experimental demonstrations in the laboratory. • During the lectures will be analysed examples applied to medicine or biology. • During the course there will be a number of training sessions devoted to the solution of a number of problems with interactive discussion • Two experiments will be analyzed where the experimental data will be provided to the students to allow the characterization of a radiation beam / a radiation detector

Exam modes

The oral exam will verify:
1) knowledge of the basic principles of operation of radiation and imaging detectors 50%
2) The analysis of the experimental data provided to the student during the demonstrations in the laboratory 50%

Course sheet
  • Academic year: 2021/2022
  • Curriculum: Particle and Astroparticle Physics - in lingua inglese
  • Year: Second year
  • Semester: First semester
  • SSD: FIS/01
  • CFU: 6
  • Attività formative caratterizzanti
  • Ambito disciplinare: Sperimentale applicativo
  • Exercise (Hours): 36
  • Lecture (Hours): 24
  • CFU: 6.00
  • SSD: FIS/01