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VOXEL Report Summary

Project ID: 665207
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.2.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - VOXEL (volumetric medical x-ray imaging at extremely low dose)

Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2016-05-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The ultimate goal of VOXEL is to provide an alternative to tomography with a disruptive technology enabling 3D X-ray imaging at very low dose. VOXEL aims at prototyping new cameras that will combine the X-ray penetration and nanometre spatial resolution, easiness to use, afforded by avoiding the rotation of the source or the sample, and extremely low dose for maximum impact on medicine and biology. VOXEL integrates the trans-disciplinary fields in medical imaging, optics, X-ray physics, applied mathematics and value to society through foreseeable commercialization. VOXEL aims at prototyping in parallel a soft X-ray “water window” microscope and a hard X-ray 3D camera for medical applications.
The plenoptic camera design, whatever the wavelength, relies heavily on an interplay between the target specifications defined by the biophysicists, the mathematical advances that are necessary in order to adapt tomographic reconstruction to tomographic data, and the engineering of the camera itself, starting with the metrology of soft and hard x-ray optics to be used.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The work performed in this first year of the project laid out the foundations for these three main pillars: soft and hard x-ray optics design, identification of the numerical framework for the special case of x-ray plenoptic imaging, and integration of both worlds in a coherent design.
In order to further these goals, we have designed and built the metrology stations where this data will be acquired. In parallel, we have installed small demonstration setups to check some particular technical aspects in the imaging process. In the course of this work, we developed a new wavefront sensor, a new X-ray optic, a new 3D microscope and the first stereoscopic imaging from two coherent microscopy images in the soft X-rays. While doing so, we kept pushing the boundaries of phase contrast imaging in X-rays, a technique to be incorporated in VOXEL at a later stage in the project.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

While we were advancing toward the major goal of building an integrated plenoptic x-ray camera, we pursued innovative technological solutions, increasing the potential impact of the project beyond the VOXEL camera itself.
The most visible result was the virtual unrolling of Herculaneum papyrus from Alessia Cedola’s team in CNR, an achievement highlighting the importance of non destructive testing. However, many more aspects can be highlighted already as an impact in society. Building an advanced X-ray metrology station in Portugal is impacting the University of Lisbon, from students to researchers, with adaptations to the curriculum towards education in advanced imaging techniques. Developing reconstruction techniques is helping us bring to the prototyping stage the 3D nanoscope at CEA and IO. LOA and IO have now a common platform to launch novel technological solutions, from which novel optical solutions are already being produced. UPM and CWI, thanks to the new VOXEL cluster, are progressing toward a computational solution to 3D reconstruction, from which any improvement will translate, in the future, to a lesser dose to patients.

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