Physics and Techniques of Biomedical Imaging (2014/2015)

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Course code
Pasquina Marzola
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Teaching is organised as follows:
Activity Credits Period Academic staff Timetable
Elementi di ottica e fisica atomica e nucleare 3 I sem. Claudia Daffara
Tecniche di imaging 3 I sem. Pasquina Marzola

Lesson timetable

I sem.
Activity Day Time Type Place Note
Elementi di ottica e fisica atomica e nucleare Monday 8:30 AM - 11:30 AM lesson Lecture Hall H  
Elementi di ottica e fisica atomica e nucleare Wednesday 4:30 PM - 6:30 PM lesson Lecture Hall F  
Elementi di ottica e fisica atomica e nucleare Thursday 4:30 PM - 7:30 PM lesson Lecture Hall I  

Learning outcomes


- I Part: Physical principles of the biomedical imaging techniques.
Optics: wave theory, mechanical and electromagnetic waves, optical instrumentation. Modern Physics: wave-particle properties of radiation and matter, principles of the quantum physics. Atomic pysics. Nuclear Physics.

- II Part: Techniques of biomedical imaging
Ultrasound imaging.
Tomography. X-ray, Computerized Axial tomography. Nuclear Medicine techniques (PET e SPECT). 
Magnetic resonance tomography. Optical Imaging. Microscopy.


I MODULE: Elements of Optics and atomic and nuclear physics

- Waves: equations, plane and spherical, harmonics, , principle of superposition, interference, standing waves, dispersion, intensity.

- Reflection and refraction: kinematic and dynamic properties, total reflection.

- Mechanical waves: sound waves, intensity, impedence, Doppler effect

- Electromagnetic waves: Maxwell equations and propagation of e.m. waves, intensity, Doppler effect, propagation in medium, dispersion, refractive index, e.m. spectrum, sources of e.m. waves, interaction radiation-matter, polarization, point source, spherical waves.

- Wave optics: reflection and refraction of e.m. waves (intensity, polarization, phase variation), principle of Huygens-Fresnel. Interference, coherent source, laser, point source approximation, Young experiment, interference on thin film, non-incoherent source, diffusion, Michelson interferometer. Diffraction (far field): slit, circular aperture, opaque disk, multiple centers diffusion. Limits on lens optical resolution. Diffaction grid. Diffraction X

- Geometrical optics: laws of reflection and transmission; total internal reflection. Mirrors, prism, thin lenses. Raylegh. Optical instrumentation and imaging. 

- Microscopy: optical and electronic, confocal, scanning tunneling microscope.


- wave-particle duality of radiation and matter: photon, blackbody radiation, Planck theory, photoelectric effect, Compton effect, couples production. De Broglie matter wave, wave packet.

- Uncertainty principle, wave function, Schroedinger equation, unbound and bound states, quantization of energy levels. Tunnel effect.

- Atomic phyisics: bound electrons in atom, Bohr model and quantum model of Hydrogen atom, spectral lines, quantum numbers. Angular momentum orbital and spin, atomic magnetism. Stern-Gerlach experiment and space quantization, magnetic nuclear resonance, XR spectrum from atoms, Bremstrahlung effect, continuous spectrum and characteric spectra.

- Nuclear physics: Rutherford diffusion. Strong nuclear force. Properties of nucleus. Nuclear spin and magnetism. Massa-energy equivalence. Radioactive decay. Alfa decay. Beta decay.

II MODULE: Imaging techniques
Mechanical waves. Ultrasound. The decibel scale. Speed of propagation. Interaction of ultrasound with matter: reflection, refraction, scattering. Attenuation of ultrasound. Piezoelectric materials. Transducer. Basics of ultrasound machines. Block diagram of ultrasound scanner. Properties of the ultrasound beam. Space resolution. Operation in A-mode and B-mode. Diagnostic use the Doppler effect.

- X-ray imaging
Generation of X-rays, interaction of radiation with matter. Attenuation of X-ray: linear attenuation coefficient of the tissue. Radiological imaging. Contrast. Tomographic reconstruction (backprojection reconstruction). X-ray computed tomography. First, 2nd and 3rd generation scanners. Fourth generation scanners and spiral computed tomography (Spiral CT). Block diagram of an apparatus. X-ray detectors. Photographic plates, ionization chambers, scintillators, photomultipliers.
- Nuclear Medicine techniques
Stable and radioactive atoms. Radiopharmaceuticals. Gamma camera collimators. SPECT and PET. Block diagram of the experimental apparatus. Applications.
-Magnetic resonance tomography. The spin. Energy levels of a spin system in a magnetic field and transitions. Population of energy levels. Magnetization vector and Bloch equations. Precessing magnetization. Rotating reference system. T1 and T2 relaxation. R.f. pulses and rotation of the magnetization. Free Induction Decay. Sequences 90th -FID, Spin-echo. The introduction of the gradient to obtain spatial information. Imaging sequences. Block diagram of a magnetic resonance scanner.
- Optical Imaging techniques
Propagation of light in biological tissues: absorption and scattering. Lambert Beer law. Absorption coefficient. Optical characteristics of biological tissues. Window of tissue transparency. Elastic scattering in the approximation of Rayleigh and Mie. Emission of light trough fluorescence and bioluminescence.
-Optical and Electronic Microscopy.

Assessment methods and criteria


The exam consists in an oral presentation of one of the imaging techniques, eventually by using slides. Questions covering the entire program will be asked during the presentation.

Suggested Textbooks
1) The basics of MRI, JP Hornak,
2) Bushberg JT, The essential physics of medical imaging, Lippincott Williams & WilkinsGuy
3) Hendee RW, Ritenour ER, Medical imaging physics, Wiley-Liss
4) Guy C, Ffytche D, An Introduction to the principles of medical imaging, Imperial College Press.