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A New Zealand-based company, known as MARS bioimaging, has developed the world's first full-colour 3D X-ray.

Dubbed as the MARS scanner, this form of technology uses a collection of specially developed chips which like a camera, captures each individual particle in the human body.

The 'Medipix' chips work like pixel detectors, which are able to relay colour information, allowing the MARS machine to formulate a 3D model of the human body. The final image produces is strikingly accurate, distinguishing between bone, cartilage, soft tissue and metal. In an example, which was published by the company, an ankle slice through taken by the MARS scanner shows the different colours of bone in white and soft tissues and muscles in red.

The duo behind the MARS bioimaging developed the technology for over a decade in collaboration with the universities of Canterbury and Otago. The scanning system uses technology originally developed by CERN (the European organisation for nuclear research), enhanced with custom data-processing algorithms, can detect the change in wavelengths as x-rays pass through different materials in the body.

According to the company, MARS bioimaging plans to commercialise the scanner in the future. Up until this point it has been used to study cancer, vascular diseases that lead to strokes and heart attacks and bone and joint health.

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