In conventional x-ray imaging, contrast is obtained through the differences in the absorption cross-section of the constituents of the object. The technique yields excellent results where highly absorbing structures such as bones are embedded in a matrix of relatively weakly absorbing material, for example the surrounding tissue of the human body. However, in cases where different forms of tissue with similar absorption cross-sections are under investigation (for example, in mammography or neurology), the x-ray absorption contrast is relatively poor. Consequently, differentiating pathologic from non-pathologic tissue in an absorption radiograph obtained with a current hospital-based x-ray system remains practically impossible for certain tissue compositions. The goal of this research project is to overcome these limitations by developing and applying the potential of x-ray phase-contrast imaging for pre-clinical, biomedical x-ray imaging applications. The anticipated results of this project shall provide the scientific basis for future routine exploitation of biomedical x-ray phase contrast imaging through academic research and biomedical imaging device manufacturers. While I envision that the method will ultimately be applicable and beneficiary for several x-ray medical diagnostics applications (i.e. including computer tomography on humans), this project will focus on the first successful implementation of x-ray phase-contrast bioimaging for pre-clinical, small-animal applications.
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