Canon buys Canadian maker of photon-counting gear
September 15, 2021
VICTORIA, BC – Canon Inc. announced a US$335 million plan to acquire Victoria-based Redlen Technologies Inc., which makes high-resolution X-ray imaging technology using cadmium zinc telluride (CZT). The technology can be employed to measure the energy of individual light particles – called photon counting – and translate the readout into electrical signals.
The process generates diagnostic results in colour that are highly accurate, produce 10 times more information than existing CT scanners and require 40 percent to 80 percent less radiation dosing.
The B.C. company is working with six of the world’s seven top makers of CT scanners, according to a report in the Globe and Mail newspaper, including Canon and Philips, to introduce its semiconductor and sensor system into their machines.
CEO Glenn Bindley, who joined the company in 2002 after co-founding semiconductor maker PMC-Sierra, said in an interview that Redlen had built 10 prototypes, and that two of its customers would be in trials by next year.
He said he expects the technology to have regulatory approval and be fully commercialized by 2025. And he predicted it will generate $1-billion in annual revenue by 2030, up from $27-million now.
With the acquisition of Redlen, Canon will obtain advanced technology used in CZT semiconductor detector modules, which play an important role in the development of PCCT. This will enable Canon Medical Systems Corporation, a subsidiary of Canon, to accelerate the development of competitive PCCT systems to strengthen the medical systems business. In addition, Canon will provide CZT semiconductor detector modules to medical equipment manufacturers around the world, thus helping strengthen Canon’s medical component business.
“Redlen is the global leader in X-ray photon counting sensors in the medical, security and non-destructive inspection fields. In collaboration with Redlen, we expect to not only accelerate the development and mass production of next-generation CTs, but also expand our component business by deploying leading-edge sensors to a wide range of fields,” said Toshio Takiguchi (pictured), head of medical group and senior managing executive officer, Canon Inc.
Glenn Bindley said, “Redlen has enjoyed a very lengthy and productive collaboration with Canon Medical on photon counting CT. We’re excited to now become a member of the Canon group with access to the world class manufacturing and scale-up expertise within Canon that will help us accelerate market adoption of our industry leading radiation detection and imaging products.”
“Innumerable people will have a much better medical outcome with this new CT technology,” Mr. Bindley said. He added that Redlen, with 34 granted and pending patents, considered going public before choosing to sell to Canon. “They have world-class expertise in areas of automation and precision manufacturing that we don’t have, and can help us accelerate there.”
Redlen was founded in 1999, in a garage, by former Teck Cominco metallurgists Bob Redden and Brian Lent. The company’s technology is based on CZT crystal growth work they had done for the Canadian Space Agency. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s venture capital arm, In-Q-Tel, was an early strategic investor and customer, because Redlen’s technology was being used in dirty bomb detectors at border crossings. (It was also used at security checkpoints during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.) But the goal was always to develop next-generation medical imaging machines, Mr. Bindley said.