Improvements in Photonic Imaging is Changing Healthcare Landscape

Nuclear imaging, while not new, is quickly proliferating into new arenas of health diagnosis while also increasing in capability in existing areas of application leading to a major shift in the healthcare landscape.

Companies directly tied to the impact of Photonics and Imaging include ASML Holding N.V. (NASDAQ: ASML), Coherent, Inc. (NASDAQ: COHR), IPG Photonics Corporation (NASDAQ: IPGP) and Zecotek Photonics Inc. (OTC: ZMSPF) (TSX.V: ZMS).

The technology that goes into telling doctors what is going on inside their patient's bodies is a critical element of modern day medicine. Medical imaging techniques such as X-rays, MRI, and CT scanning all transformed the health industry to a great extent when they were developed. Now, new approaches to imaging technologies are transforming the capabilities once again.

Several companies are heavily involved and contribute to the changes taking place. Others who deal directly with the imaging technologies include ASML Holding N.V. (NASDAQ: ASML), Coherent, Inc. (NASDAQ: COHR), and IPG Photonics Corporation (NASDAQ: IPGP).

One small, yet significant contributor in this space is Canadian innovator Zecotek Photonics Inc. (OTC: ZMSPF) (TSX.V: ZMS), a junior photonics tech firm, with over 50 patents and patent-pending technologies.

Big breakthroughs are happening across the entire photonics sector, and within the surge the sector has created and sustained several multi-billion-dollar companies, along with major opportunities for newcomers like Zecotek.


From minute problems like joint dislocations to the terrifying scourge that is cancer, internal imaging has improved diagnosis accuracy and pooled knowledge of disease progression. Being non-invasive, painless and quick, these imaging techniques help to detect disease at early stages of development and aid in reducing recovery time and mortality.

While current technologies have an amazing record of improving healthcare, they do have their shortcomings and continuous improvements are needed. The technology continues to improve through the incorporation of new techniques such as 3D and 4D technologies that can produce more advanced images.

Doctors are also able to share imaging information through cloud-based platforms by uploading digital images through networked arrays.

Nuclear imaging technology has been used for quite a while for cancer and heart diseases and is now increasingly being used for neurological disorders.

Through the use of PET, FDG and SPECT imaging, clinicians are able to make early diagnosis of neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia.

In recent years, many hospitals around the world have unrolled a technique known as amyloid PET imaging which detects abnormal protein deposits that are associated with Alzheimer's disease. The technology provides more detailed imaging than more conventional radiotracers.

Researchers are also working on more advanced PET imaging techniques including inflammation imaging and tau imaging.


There are many notable improvements happening in the field of nuclear imaging. One of the most important advancements involves merging the benefits of PET and CT imaging.

PET/CT conflated systems have been in the market since 2001 and have significantly improved image resolutions. PET/CT combines anatomical and functional information acquired from the two configurations. Physicians get more accurate information which makes diagnosis more accurate.

Rather than taking separate images, this framework simultaneously scans the body in the same position for both PET and CT modalities. The patient's scan time is significantly reduced because they do not have to undergo separate examinations.

This is a major milestone in imaging.


Another area gaining a footing is Photonics. Whereas "Electronics relies on the movement of the Electron, "Photonics relies on the movement of the Photon which travels at the speed of light."

Fiber Optics, Lasers, quantum computing, Imaging, Data Storage, Data transfer, Data visualization such as 3D, Terahertz wireless communication, to name a few, are fast growing technologies enabled by the science of Photonics, shaping almost every major industry and creating new ones.

For example, junior developer Zecotek Photonics is forwarding several new photonics based innovations.

Zecotek's LFS scintillation crystals and MAPD Silicon Photo-Multipliers are being used inside the equipment of major world-changing research, including the world's first total body PET scanner, and Neurological PET scanner, and IHEP (World Largest Particle Accelerator Program) as well as CERN's CMS experiment that aids in finding dark matter, other dimensions, and possibly better understanding of the mechanisms of the origins of existence itself.

While the high-profile uses of Zecotek's LFS crystals are involved in some of the world's most major research breakthroughs, it's with the photonics developer's other technologies that you'll be more likely to encounter in your day-to-day lives.

Zecotek is at the vanguard of a new generation of glasses-free 3D displays—with a patented data processing module that provides for real-time capability, with a system capable of transferring data for up to ninety views in full high definition.

The company is also developing a compact, high-speed 3D printer, which will use high-performance metal alloys and offers technical and commercial advantages over competing technologies.


In order to improve image quality, scientists have been relying on tweaks in bed motion and continuous data acquisition. Industry heavy hitters such as Siemens Healthcare, Phillips Health Care and GE Healthcare all have novel PET/CT systems that have already received FDA approval.

Siemen's Biograph mCT Flow PET/CT uses a technology branded as "FlowMotion", which moves the patient continuously through the system's gantry, yield stronger data streams than previous stop-and-go configurations.

The Vereos PET/CT from Philips replaced the traditional analog detectors with digital silicon photomultiplier detectors, which reportedly doubled the sensitivity gain, volumetric resolution and quantitative accuracy.

General Electric's Q.Clear PET/CT technology reportedly delivers two times improvements in image quality and quantitative accuracy. Industry experts believe that FlowMotion, SPECT/CT imaging will be important trends to watch in the near future.

Unlike many research fields, Photonics appears to also be a lucrative end of the business.

Out of a recent sample group of the photonics majors, each company that made major technological breakthroughs in the field experienced massive gains as they surpassed billion-dollar market caps.

Clearly there's great opportunity in the new era of medical imaging and true innovators in the space could end up being the hot spot for early backers.



ASML is one of the world`s leading manufacturers of chip-making equipment. Our vision is to enable affordable microelectronics that improve the quality of life. To achieve this, our mission is to invent, develop, manufacture and service advanced technology for high-tech lithography, metrology and software solutions for the semiconductor industry.

Coherent, Inc. (NASDAQ: COHR)

Coherent, Inc. provides lasers and laser-based technology in a range of scientific, commercial, and industrial applications worldwide. It operates through two segments, Specialty Lasers and Systems, and Commercial Lasers and Components. The company designs, manufactures, services, and markets lasers, laser tools, precision optics, and related accessories. Its products are used in markets, such as microelectronics, materials processing, original equipment manufacturer components and instrumentation, and scientific research and government programs.

IPG Photonics Corporation (NASDAQ: IPGP)

IPG Photonics Corporation is the world leader in high-power fiber lasers and amplifiers. Founded in 1990, IPG pioneered the development and commercialization of optical fiber-based lasers for use in diverse applications, primarily materials processing. Fiber lasers have revolutionized the industry by delivering superior performance, reliability and usability at a lower total cost of ownership compared with conventional lasers, allowing end users to increase productivity and decrease operating costs. IPG has its headquarters in Oxford, Massachusetts, and has additional plants and offices throughout the world.

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