Skip to Main Content
We investigated the dependence of image quality on the temperature of a position sensitive avalanche photodiode (PSAPD)-based small animal single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) gamma camera with a CsI:Tl scintillator. Currently, nitrogen gas cooling is preferred to operate PSAPDs in order to minimize the dark current shot noise. Being able to operate a PSAPD at a relatively high temperature (e.g., 5°C) would allow a more compact and simple cooling system for the PSAPD. In our investigation, the temperature of the PSAPD was controlled by varying the flow of cold nitrogen gas through the PSAPD module and varied from -40°C to 20°C. Three experiments were performed to demonstrate the performance variation over this temperature range. The point spread function (PSF) of the gamma camera was measured at various temperatures, showing variation of full-width-half-maximum (FWHM) of the PSF. In addition, a 99 mTc-pertechnetate (140 keV) flood source was imaged and the visibility of the scintillator segmentation (16 × 16 array, 8 mm × 8 mm area, 400 μ m pixel size) at different temperatures was evaluated. Comparison of image quality was made at -25°C and 5°C using a mouse heart phantom filled with an aqueous solution of 99 m Tc-pertechnetate and imaged using a 0.5 mm pinhole collimator made of tungsten. The reconstructed image quality of the mouse heart phantom at 5°C degraded in comparision to the reconstructed image quality at -25°C. However, the defect and structure of the mouse heart phantom were clearly observed, showing the feasibility of operating PSAPDs for SPECT imaging at 5°C, a temperature that would not need the nitrogen cooling. All PSAPD evaluations were conducted with an applied bias voltage that allowed the highest gain at a given temperature.