Enabling exploration of biological tissue in three-dimensions at sub-cellular scale is instrumental for advancing our understanding of biological systems and for finding better ways to cope with diseases. Over the last few years, remarkable advances in microscopy facilitated probing cells and tissues at the nanometer scale but many limitations are yet to be overcome. Here we present a novel technique which enables label-free volume imaging of biological tissue with pixel sizes down to 25 nm while maintaining extensive sample coverage. X-ray holographic nanotomography is a full-field 3D imaging technique which benefits from the deep penetration of X-rays and the powerful mechanism of phase contrast. By using cryogenic sample preservation, the tissue can be investigated close to the native state. The unprecedented data created by this technique opens new avenues in life sciences research.
In high-resolution tomography, one needs high-resolved projections in order to reconstruct a high-quality 3D map of a sample. X-ray ptychography is a robust technique which can provide such high-resolution 2D projections taking advantage of coherent X-rays. This technique was used in the far-field regime for a fair amount of time, but it can now also be implemented in the near-field regime. In both regimes, the technique enables not only high-resolution imaging, but also high sensitivity to the electron density of the sample. The combination with tomography makes 3D imaging possible via ptychographic X-ray computed tomography (PXCT), which can provide a 3D map of the complex-valued refractive index of the sample. The extension of PXCT to X-ray energies above 15 keV is challenging, but it can allow the imaging of object opaque to lower energy. We present here the implementation and developments of high-energy near- and far-field PXCT at the ESRF.
The ID16A beamline at ESRF offers unique capabilities for X-ray nano-imaging, and currently produces the worlds brightest high energy diffraction-limited nanofocus. Such a nanoprobe was designed for quantitative characterization of the morphology and the elemental composition of specimens at both room and cryogenic temperatures. Billions of photons per second can be delivered in a diffraction-limited focus spot size down to 13 nm. Coherent X-ray imaging techniques, as magnified holographic-tomography and ptychographic-tomography, are implemented as well as X-ray fluorescence nanoscopy. We will show the latest developments in coherent and spectroscopic X-ray nanoimaging implemented at the ID16A beamline
Ptychography combines elements of scanning probe microscopy with coherent diffractive imaging and provides a robust high-resolution imaging technique. The extension of X-ray ptychography to 3D provides nanoscale maps with quantitative contrast of the sample complex-valued refractive index. We present here progress in reconstruction and post-processing algorithms for ptychographic nanotomography, as well as outline advances in the implementation and development of dedicated instrumentation for fast and precise 3D scanning at the Swiss Light Source. Compared to the first demonstration in 2010, such developments have allowed a dramatic improvement in resolution and measurement speed, with direct impact in the application of the technique for biology and materials science. We showcase the technique by detailing the measurement and reconstruction of a fossilized dispersed spore.