A compact, self-contained x-ray source, and a compact x-ray source panel having a plurality of such x-ray sources arranged in a preferably broad-area pixelized array. Each x-ray source includes an electron source for producing an electron beam, an x-ray conversion target, and a multilayer insulator separating the electron source and the x-ray conversion target from each other. The multi-layer insulator preferably has a cylindrical configuration with a plurality of alternating insulator and conductor layers surrounding an acceleration channel leading from the electron source to the x-ray conversion target. A power source is connected to each x-ray source of the array to produce an accelerating gradient between the electron source and x-ray conversion target in any one or more of the x-ray sources independent of other x-ray sources in the array, so as to accelerate an electron beam towards the x-ray conversion target. The multilayer insulator enables relatively short separation distances between the electron source and the x-ray conversion target so that a thin panel is possible for compactness. This is due to the ability of the plurality of alternating insulator and conductor layers of the multilayer insulators to resist surface flashover when sufficiently high acceleration energies necessary for x-ray generation are supplied by the power source to the x-ray sources.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.