Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New phase-contrast microscopy developed at PSI enhances X-ray images.

10.05.2006


Innovations for society

Imaging techniques are increasingly at the forefront of progress in science and technology. The Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) is among the leaders in this development. Imaging techniques turn objects visually inside out, allowing ever greater precision– for instance in medical diagnosis. They also contribute to a better understanding of the mechanisms of certain diseases, like Alzheimer’s or osteoporosis. Further applications occur in materials research, where imaging processes are a decisive factor in achieving results that ultimately – as with medical progress – benefit society.

The new phase-contrast microscopy developed at PSI enhances the sensitivity and contrast of classical X-ray images. Traditional techniques are based on the different X-ray absorbance of different materials, which enables the structure of dense body-matter like bones to be readily differentiated from that of lighter tissue. Low-absorbance materials, however, produce low-contrast images, which makes it difficult to visually reproduce fine details using conventional X-ray methods.

It has been discovered, however, that X-rays not only lose intensity when passing through a sample, they also undergo a phase shift, because the speed of light waves in matter differs from their speed in a vacuum. This phase shift is sensitive to the smallest changes in tissue, which means that phase signals can be used to substantially heighten the contrast of an X-ray picture.

Safer early diagnosis of breast cancer

Enhanced contrast enables the X-ray dose to be significantly reduced, which is particularly relevant to mammography techniques in screening for breast cancer. Phase-contrast microscopy is readily adaptable to existing X-ray equipment and could, therefore, trigger a major improvement in future X-ray diagnostic techniques.

Another aspect of medical technology currently at the top of PSI’s research programme is X-ray microtomography, a process that provides a detailed image of the interior of a sample. PSI results are of particularly high quality because the Swiss Light Source (SLS) particle accelerator generates X-rays of unparalleled intensity. The more intensive the X-ray beam, the better and faster the microtomography. Three dimensional images with a resolution of one thousandth of a millimeter (1 micrometer) can currently be produced within minutes.

Top quality 3D images

The PSI equipment can take snapshots of aluminum alloys, ceramics, and prehistoric embryos, as well as bones affected by osteoporosis. A joint research project of PSI, ETH Zurich, the University of Zurich and Novartis is looking for traces of Alzheimer’s disease in blood vessels. Scientists have recorded changes to blood vessels in the brains of young mice with Alzheimer’s disease. This might indicate that the -origins of the disease are connected with insufficient blood supply to the brain – in other words that the protein deposits typical of Alz-heimer’s might be caused by lack of oxygen. Achieving a resolution of 1–15 micrometers, PSI’s 3D imaging of mouse blood vessels is an important tool in researching this hypothesis.

PSI’s two neutron radiography instruments, NEUTRA and (since 2005) ICON, are basically no more than large-scale cameras. But they have special powers – they can see through objects without destroying them. So can X-ray devices; but the difference is that neutrons can do this with heavy metals like lead or uranium. And they have other advantages, too. For examining finely structured organic substances (and water) the neutron beam is definitely the instrument of choice.

Roman swords and dino vertebrae

The equipment is often used for routine jobs like the examination of welds and seams, or testing for corrosion, or for electro-chemical and geological research. But questions also come from archaeologists interested in Celtic coins or in the workmanship of Roman swords, from palaeontologists studying the cervical vertebrae of dinosaurs, and even from engineers testing bullet-proof vests.

Last year PSI spent almost SF 270 million not only on its in-house research projects, but also in academic training, and in its function as one of the top user laboratories worldwide. In 2005 a record number of more than 1400 scientists from 50 different countries used our large scale facilities for their experiments, and the number of user-visits was also substantially higher than in the previous year. The quality of PSI’s experimental facilities and equipment, as well as our advice and consultation services, is clearly a factor that attracts scientists in increasing numbers to Villigen.

Juanita Schlaepfer-Miller | alfa
Further information:
http://www.psi.ch/medien/medien_news_e.shtml

More articles from Medical Engineering:

nachricht Visualizing gene expression with MRI
23.12.2016 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Illuminating cancer: Researchers invent a pH threshold sensor to improve cancer surgery
21.12.2016 | UT Southwestern Medical Center

All articles from Medical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>