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Hard-X-ray dark-field imaging using a grating interferometer


Imaging with visible light today uses numerous contrast mechanisms, including bright- and dark-field contrast, phase-contrast schemes and confocal and fluorescence-based methods1. X-ray imaging, on the other hand, has only recently seen the development of an analogous variety of contrast modalities. Although X-ray phase-contrast imaging could successfully be implemented at a relatively early stage with several techniques2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11, dark-field imaging, or more generally scattering-based imaging, with hard X-rays and good signal-to-noise ratio, in practice still remains a challenging task even at highly brilliant synchrotron sources12,13,14,15,16,17,18. In this letter, we report a new approach on the basis of a grating interferometer that can efficiently yield dark-field scatter images of high quality, even with conventional X-ray tube sources. Because the image contrast is formed through the mechanism of small-angle scattering, it provides complementary and otherwise inaccessible structural information about the specimen at the micrometre and submicrometre length scale. Our approach is fully compatible with conventional transmission radiography and a recently developed hard-X-ray phase-contrast imaging scheme11. Applications to X-ray medical imaging, industrial non-destructive testing and security screening are discussed.

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Figure 1: X-ray grating interferometer.
Figure 2: X-ray imaging of a test sample consisting of a PTFE (Teflon) plastic tube and a natural rubber tube.
Figure 3: Imaging of a biological specimen (chicken wing).


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We gratefully acknowledge C. Kottler for help with the experiments and T. Weitkamp and S. Wilkins for discussions.

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Authors and Affiliations



F.P., M.B. and C.D. conceived the experimental set up. C.D. and C.G. designed and fabricated the gratings. O.B. interfaced the experimental hardware and data acquisition system. F.P. wrote the data analysis software. C.B., E.F.E. and P.K. were responsible for the detector hardware, software and calibration. F.P. and M.B. analysed and interpreted the data.

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Correspondence to F. Pfeiffer.

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Pfeiffer, F., Bech, M., Bunk, O. et al. Hard-X-ray dark-field imaging using a grating interferometer. Nature Mater 7, 134–137 (2008).

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