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Optimal Imaging with Present and Future Coherent X-ray Sources

Final Report Summary - OPTIMAX (Optimal Imaging with Present and Future Coherent X-ray Sources)

The OptImaX project, for "Optimal Imaging with X-rays", was designed to push the limits of cutting-edge X-ray microscopy techniques. One of the main goals was to develop further ptychography, a recent imaging technique that promised, at the onset of the project, to provide scientists with high-contrast nanometre-scale three-dimensional images of various samples of interest. The project has been an important driver in making this promise a reality. Nowadays, ptychography is used or planned to be used in all synchrotron facilities in the world.

Among important discoveries done during the project are theoretical developments, inspired from the field of quantum metrology, that have brought new light on the fundamental physics of the imaging process. These development have had a crucial impact on concrete applications, making ptychography usable in a much broader range of experimental conditions. This "mixed-state" reconstruction approach, published in the pages of Nature, has been implemented in a new software suite called "Ptypy", freely accessible to all researchers.

New "sister techniques" have also been invented or greatly improved, including a near-field flavour of ptychography, and an X-ray phase-contrast imaging method based on the deformation of patterned wavefronts.

In addition, ptychography has been applied with success to the difficult task of characterising the individual pulses produced by the newly build X-ray free-electron lasers.

The OptImaX project has also funded an international meeting "Ptycho2013", which gave a unique opportunity for the imaging community to share new ideas and plan the next development steps.