## Abstract

Purpose: The goal is to provide a sufficient condition for the invertibility of a multi-energy (ME) X-ray transform. The energy-dependent X-ray attenuation profiles can be represented by a set of coefficients using the Alvarez–Macovski (AM) method. An ME X-ray transform is a mapping from (Formula presented.) AM coefficients to (Formula presented.) noise-free energy-weighted measurements, where (Formula presented.). Methods: We apply a general invertibility theorem to prove the equivalence of global and local invertibility for an ME X-ray transform. We explore the global invertibility through testing whether the Jacobian of the mapping (Formula presented.) has zero values over the support of the mapping. The Jacobian of an arbitrary ME X-ray transform is an integration over all spectral measurements. A sufficient condition for (Formula presented.) for all (Formula presented.) is that the integrand of (Formula presented.) is (Formula presented.) (or (Formula presented.)) everywhere. Note that the trivial case of the integrand equals 0 everywhere is ignored. Using symmetry, we simplified the integrand of the Jacobian to three factors that are determined by the total attenuation, the basis functions, and the energy-weighting functions, respectively. The factor related to the total attenuation is always positive; hence, the invertibility of the X-ray transform can be determined by testing the signs of the other two factors. Furthermore, we use the Cramér–Rao lower bound (CRLB) to characterize the noise-induced estimation uncertainty and provide a maximum-likelihood (ML) estimator. Results: The factor related to the basis functions is always negative when the photoelectric/Compton/Rayleigh basis functions are used and K-edge materials are not considered. The sign of the energy-weighting factor depends on the system source spectra and the detector response functions. For four special types of X-ray detectors, the sign of this factor stays the same over the integration range. Therefore, when these four types of detectors are used for imaging non-K-edge materials, the ME X-ray transform is globally invertible. The same framework can be used to study an arbitrary ME X-ray imaging system, for example, when K-edge materials are present. Furthermore, the ML estimator we presented is an unbiased, efficient estimator and can be used for a wide range of scenes. Conclusions: We have provided a framework to study the invertibility of an arbitrary ME X-ray transform and proved the global invertibility for four types of systems.

## Keywords

- invertibility
- multi-energy X-ray imaging
- spectral X-ray imaging
- X-ray

## ASJC Scopus subject areas

- Biophysics
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging