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Lensless imaging using broadband X-ray sources


High-resolution X-ray imaging techniques using optical elements such as zone plates are widely used for viewing the internal structure of samples in exquisite detail. The resolution attainable is ultimately limited by the manufacturing tolerances for the optics. Combining ideas from crystallography and holography, this limit may be surpassed by the method of coherent diffractive imaging (CDI)1. Although CDI shows particular promise in applications involving X-ray free-electron lasers2, it is also emerging as an important new technique for imaging at third-generation synchrotrons. The limited coherent output of these sources, however, is a significant barrier to obtaining shorter exposure times. A fundamental assumption of coherent diffractive imaging is that the incident light is well-approximated by a single optical frequency. In this Letter, we demonstrate the first experimental realization of ‘polyCDI’, using a broadband source to achieve a factor of 60 reduction in the exposure time over quasi-monochromatic coherent diffractive imaging.

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Figure 1: Polychromatic data and sample.
Figure 2: Reconstructed amplitude of sample ESW from the test object shown in Fig. 1c multiplied by the final sample support (identical for each reconstruction).
Figure 3: Comparison of reconstructed image resolution and data.


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The authors acknowledge the support of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coherent x-ray Science and the Australian Synchrotron Research Program. Use of the Advanced Photon Source was supported by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences (contract no. DE-AC02-06CH11357).

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Authors and Affiliations



B.A carried out the experimental data analysis. L.W.W. and H.M.Q. carried out the simulation studies. L.W.W., A.G.P., G.J.W., C.T.P., G.C., C.A.H., D.J.V., K.A.N and I.McN. were responsible for carrying out the experiment. E.B. prepared and characterized the samples. A.G.P. was responsible for project planning, and L.W. and H.M.Q. were responsible for developing the polychromatic diffraction algorithm. H.M.Q. determined the maximum allowed bandwidth for the algorithm (Supplementary Information 2). All authors contributed to the writing of the manuscript. Credit for the initial idea and concept go to K.A.N and I.McN.

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Correspondence to Keith A. Nugent.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Abbey, B., Whitehead, L., Quiney, H. et al. Lensless imaging using broadband X-ray sources. Nature Photon 5, 420–424 (2011).

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