The small angular size of the X-ray sources at modern synchrotron radiation facilities like the ESRF imply a high spatial coherence of the photon beams. This was recently shown to make the imaging of phase objects through Fresnel diffraction straightforward, with a very simple experimental setup.
This gives the possibility of imaging objects involving negligible absorption of hard X-rays but appreciable variations in optical path length due to thickness or compositional variations. This first experiments performed at the ESRF on organic (bones, plants) or inorganic (test materials with inclusions, holes, cracks) samples appear very promising.
I intend 1) to further investigate the capabilities of this new technique, 2) to extend it to phase-contrast tomography, and 3) to apply these techniques to the investigation of the influence of precipitates and pores on the mechanical properties of industrial materials.