Swiss researchers improve an interferometry technique by utilizing the interference fringe, an aspect previously viewed as a nuisance
Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute's Swiss Light Source in Villigen, Switzerland, have developed a new design for X-ray spectrometers that eschews a commonly utilized component to lowers overall production costs and increase the efficiency of x-ray flux, which may lead to faster acquisition times for sample imaging and increased efficiency for the system. This is essential for biological samples which may be damaged by continued x-ray exposure.
X-ray grating interferometry is an extremely useful tool for investigating the compositions of unknown biological samples. In the traditional setup, a source of interference called the interference fringe necessitated the use of highly-sensitive detectors. In response to this, a method known as Talbot-Lau interferometry was developed and widely adopted. It renders the detector mostly inessential by decoupling the interferometer's sensitivity from the detector's resolution. However, a number of manufacturing costs and mechanical complexities ultimately complicate its implementation.
To remedy this, researchers at the Institute for Biomedical Engineering in Zurich and the Swiss Light Source (SLS) have developed an interferometer which does not use the traditional component, called a G2 grating, and instead directly exploits the fringe interference for higher resolution.
"We can perform differential phase contrast imaging with high sensitivity without the need for a G2 grating or a detector with small pixel size in order to resolve the fringe," said Matias Kagias. Kagias is a PhD student in the laboratory of Marco Stampanoni, the paper's primary investigator. Kagias and his colleagues present their work this week in Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing.
X-ray interferometry works by firing X-rays at a downstream detector. When a biomedical sample or a piece of material is placed in the beam's path, the object modifies the observed interference pattern via absorption, refraction, and small-angle scattering. Once these signals are picked up by the detector, technicians can determine the sample's properties using an algorithm.
Along the way - either before or after the sample - the beams pass through a phase grating, which divides the beam into different diffraction orders based on their wavelength. The difference between these diffraction orders introduces an interference fringe - a problematic source of interference which needs to be in the micrometer range in order to achieve high sensitivity for the detector. Unfortunately, such fringes are challenging to record directly over a large field of view.
To work around this, the Talbot-Lau interferometry method utilizes an absorption grating, G2, placed right before the detector, and senses the distortions by a procedure known as phase stepping. Here, the absorption grating is scanned step by step for one or more periods of the interference fringe, each time recording an image which results in an intensity curve at each pixel. This allows the interference fringe to be sensed indirectly, while obtaining absorption, differential phase and small-angle scattering signals for each pixel.
However, this ultimately causes the system to be less efficient for each dose of x-rays due to photon absorption by G2. The required area and aspect ratio of the gratings, which are millimeter-sized, further complicate matters by driving up overall production costs.
The researchers' experimental setup consisted of an X-ray source, a single phase grating, and a GOTTHARD microstrip detector developed by the SLS detector group - a significantly simplified version of the traditional Talbot-Lau interferometer. The GOTTHARD detector uses a direct conversion sensor, in which X-ray photons are absorbed , the charge generated from one absorption event is collected by more than one channel for small channel sizes - charge sharing.
"The key point to resolving the fringe is to acquire single photon events and then interpolate their positions using the charge sharing effect, which is usually considered as a negative effect in photon counting detectors," Kagias said. By interpolating the position of many photons, a high resolution image can then be acquired.
When the researchers implemented the appropriate algorithm to analyze this recorded fringe, they found that the fringes of a few micrometers could be acquired successfully while still retrieving the differential phase signal.
According to Kagias, this ultimately increases the interferometer's flux efficiency by a factor of 2 compared to a standard Talbot-Lau interferometer. This may lead to faster acquisition times and a dose reduction, which is essential given X-rays' potential to damage biological structures.
Future work for Kagias and his colleagues involves moving to large area pixel detectors, and improving the resolution and sensitivity of their setup.
The article, "Single Shot X-Ray Phase Contrast Imaging Using a Direct Conversion Microstrip Detector with Single Photon Sensitivity" is authored by M. Kagias, S. Cartier, Z. Wang, A. Bergamaschi, R. Dinapoli, A. Mozzanica, B. Schmitt, and M. Stampanoni. It will appear in the journal Applied Physics Letters on June 7, 2016 (DOI: 10.1063/1.4948584). After that date, it can be accessed at: http://scitation.
About the journal:
Applied Physics Letters features concise, rapid reports on significant new findings in applied physics. The journal covers new experimental and theoretical research on applications of physics phenomena related to all branches of science, engineering, and modern technology.
John Arnst | EurekAlert!
Ultra-compact phase modulators based on graphene plasmons
27.06.2017 | ICFO-The Institute of Photonic Sciences
Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold
26.06.2017 | Toyohashi University of Technology
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
27.06.2017 | Earth Sciences
27.06.2017 | Earth Sciences
27.06.2017 | Life Sciences