Phase-contrast imaging of the breast is expected to deliver significantly improved image quality and diagnostic value at a reduced radiation dose compared to present-day 2D X-ray mammography, digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) and computed tomography (CT) and become a viable method for early diagnosis of breast cancer in women. This paper builds upon the evaluation of a novel protocol to evaluate 3D mammographic phase contrast imaging for the detection of breast cancer undertaken with a purpose designed phantom and selected breast cancer specimens. Following evaluation, propagation-based phase contrast imaging was demonstrated to have high contrast to noise ratio alongside an important reduction in radiation dose. The challenge now is to shift the focus of research to real clinic solutions, with the worldfirst demonstration of X-ray in-line full field phase-contrast mammographic tomography (PCT) with cancer patients through an international collaboration of a multi-disciplinary team.
X-ray studies of materials in extreme conditions of pressure call for focusing optics able to deliver very clean micron-size focal spots of high energy X-rays with added stringent requirements of flexibility to accommodate different experimental geometries and fast focal spot size adjustment. These requirements are fully met by multi-electrode modular piezoelectric bimorph mirrors (PBMs) in Kirkpatrick-Baez configurations, and these optical systems have already been successfully used for several years at high brilliance 3rd generation synchrotron radiation facilities such as the ESRF and SPring-8. The optical characterization and in-situ X-ray performance of the first pair of modular PBMs installed at the Advanced Photon Source at
Argonne national laboratory is reported here. Metrology tests show that the mirrors are able to approximate an arbitrary surface described by a 9th order polynomial in shape with only 100 Å rms shape error over their full optical surface. Full adaptive zonal control allows wave front correction, delivers optimum focal spot profiles (as small as 8.5 (H) x 5.0 (V) μm2 FWHM at a focal distance of 1 m) and fully achieves the creep-free short and long term stability and repeatability required by the experimental program.