NPRE 435: Radiological Imaging


Fall, 2021


Course Description

In this course, we will discuss the basic principles for generating tomographic images of volumetric objects through the detection of ionizing radiation signals. These include the sources of ionizing radiation, interactions of ionizing radiation with matter, operating principles for state-of-art imaging detectors, mathematical and statistical principles for modeling the detected signal, basic techniques for reconstructing tomographic images from measured projections. Based on these discussions, we will introduce several critically important imaging modalities, such as planar X-ray radiography, X-ray computed tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET), single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), and their application in the diagnosis of diseases, monitoring therapeutic responses and as research tools for understanding the molecular pathways underlying various biological processes. We will also discuss several emerging radiological imaging techniques, such as X-ray fluorescence emission tomography (XFET), X-ray luminescence computed tomography (XLCT) and their applications in preclinical and clinical research.

This course will not only cover the basic principles of current radiological imaging techniques but also highlight the advantages and limitations of the existing imaging modalities, as well as identify potential directions for further advancing the field of radiological imaging.


Syllabus and Tentative Schedule



Teaching Staff and Office Hours

Instructor: Ling-Jian Meng, Ph.D. E-mail:; Office: 111E Talbot Lab; Tel: 217-3337710.

Office hours: 3-5 pm on Friday. Please feel free to come to my office during regular hours or to send me an email to make an appointment.



Lecture Time and Place

      MWF 2:00pm-2:50pm; 2036 Campus Instructional Facility.




Unofficially: radiation interactions, basic principles of radiation detectors, probability and random variables complex numbers, linear algebra, Matlab.



Required textbooks

     [1] Medical Imaging Signals and Systems (2nd Edition), J. Prince and J. M. Links, Pearson Prentice Hall, 2012. Chapter 1-3, Chapter 4-6.



      [1] Foundations of Medical Imaging, Z. H. Cho, John Wiley & Sons, 1993.

      [2] Radiation Detection and Measurements, Third Edition, G. F. Knoll, John Wiley & Sons, 1999.


Course Website and Zoom Link for Online Lectures

Course website:

Zoom link for online lectures:



Lecture Notes (will be posted after each lecture)

Introduction to Radiological Imaging (08/25-08/27).


Chapter 1: A (Very) Brief Introduction to Radiation Sources and Radiation Interactions

§  A brief introduction to the radiation sources commonly used in radiological imaging: (08/27 – 08/30) Reading Material: Chapters 1 in Ref. book [3].

§  Radiation Interactions: Reading Material: Chapters 2 in Ref. book [3].


Chapter 2: Linear System Theory

§  Signals and systems: Reading Material: Chapters 2 in Ref. book [1].

§  Fourier transform basics, and sampling theory: Reading Material: Chapters 2 in Ref. book [1] and Chapters 2 in Ref. book [2].


Chapter 3: Mathematical Preliminaries for Image Processing

§  Analytical Image Reconstruction Methods (1): Radon Transform & Central Slice Theorem: Reading: Chapter 3 in Ref. book [1]. Chapter 6 (Page 192-207) in Ref. book [2]

§  Analytical Image Reconstruction Methods (2): Back-projection based reconstruction methods:

§  A brief introduction to MATLAB.

§  Iterative Image Reconstruction Methods: please also see the attached paper by Shepp and Vardi on MLEM.

§  Image Quality: Reading Material: Chapters 3 in Ref. book [2].


Chapter 4: X-ray Radiography and Computed Tomography

§  X-Ray Physics (1): X-ray generation.  Reading Material: Chapters 4 & 5 in Ref. book [2]

§  X-Ray Physics (2): X-ray interactions, attenuation, and practical considerations. Reading Material: Chapters 4 & 5 in Ref. book [2]

§  X-Ray Physics (3): X-ray detectors. Reading Material: Chapters 4 & 5 in Ref. book [2]

§  X-Ray CT: Image formation and image quality: Reading Material: Chapters 6 in Ref. book [2].


Chapter 5: Emission Tomography and Related Imaging Techniques

§  Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) (1): principle, radionuclides, and Imaging systems: Reading Material: Chapters 7 & 8 in Ref. book [2].

§  Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (2): SPECT systems, Image Formation, Design Considerations, and Recent Advances: Reading Material: Chapters 7 & 8 in Ref. book [2].

§  Positron Emission Tomography (PET): Basic Principle, Instrumentations, Design Considerations, and Clinical Applications: Additional Reading Material: Chapters 9 in Ref. book [2], and recent technological advances.                                                                                   





Homeworks (will be posted after each Monday’s lecture) 


Homework 1: Due at 5 pm on 10-04-21, please send your electronic copy to me by email. (Solutions)

Homework 2: Due at 5 pm on 10-25-21. (Solutions)


Mid-term Exam Information

    Time: Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, 2-3 PM in class

     Content covered: Chapter 2 – Mathematical Preliminaries. There will be four questions in the exam.

     Format: Close-book, but you could bring a 2-page “cheat-sheet.” 

Review slides.


Final Exam Information

Format: Take-home, the exam will be send by email.

Time: The exam will be distributed on Monday, December 13 at noon, and will be due on        Wednesday, Dec. 15 at noon.

Content covered:

            Chapters 4 and 5 as appeared on the course website.

             There will be 810 questions in the exam.

Review slides.




Homework 30%              

Mid-term exam: 30%

Quizzes: 10%

Final exam: Exam 30%