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Wenz, J.; Schleede, S.; Khrennikov, K.; Bech, M.; Thibault, P.; Heigoldt, M.; Pfeiffer, F. and Karsch, S. (2015): Quantitative X-ray phase-contrast microtomography from a compact laser-driven betatron source. In: Nature Communications, Vol. 6, 7568 [PDF, 2MB]

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X-ray phase-contrast imaging has recently led to a revolution in resolving power and tissue contrast in biomedical imaging, microscopy and materials science. The necessary high spatial coherence is currently provided by either large-scale synchrotron facilities with limited beamtime access or by microfocus X-ray tubes with rather limited flux. X-rays radiated by relativistic electrons driven by well-controlled high-power lasers offer a promising route to a proliferation of this powerful imaging technology. A laser-driven plasma wave accelerates and wiggles electrons, giving rise to a brilliant keV X-ray emission. This so-called betatron radiation is emitted in a collimated beam with excellent spatial coherence and remarkable spectral stability. Here we present a phase-contrast microtomogram of a biological sample using betatron X-rays. Comprehensive source characterization enables the reconstruction of absolute electron densities. Our results suggest that laser-based X-ray technology offers the potential for filling the large performance gap between synchrotron-and current X-ray tube-based sources.

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