Honors Gallery

MiniMAX: A Revolutionary X-ray Imaging System

Award: Notable Technology Development

Year: 2014

Award Type:

Region: Mid-Continent

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL)

The MiniMAX is the world’s smallest, most portable x-ray machine that was developed by researchers led by Scott Watson at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Unlike its predecessors, which are a couple of feet wide and quite heavy, MiniMAX weighs five pounds. It can be whisked to accidents, crime scenes, battlefields, airports, sidelines, and any other place that could benefit from on-the-spot x-ray vision. Inside, an x-ray source about the size of a can of soda generates a beam as powerful as stationary machines, and rather than rely on a bulky transformer, it draws power from a 9-volt battery. The secret to the x-ray source is a blend of special polymers that build up huge amounts of static electricity when brought together and discharge it when the surfaces separate.