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Graphics Software Science Technology

Massively Parallel X-Ray Holography 41

Posted by Soulskill
from the thank-you-for-not-inventing-a-witty-acronym dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "An international group of scientists has produced some of the sharpest x-ray holograms of microscopic objects ever made. According to one of them, they improved the efficiency of holography by a factor of 2,500. In order to achieve these spectacular results, they put a uniformly redundant array next to the object to image. And they found that this parallel approach multiplied 'the efficiency of X-ray Fourier transform holography by more than three orders of magnitude, approaching that of a perfect lens.' Besides these impressive achievements, it's worth noting that this technology has been inspired by the pinhole camera, a technique used by ancient Greeks. 'By knowing the precise layout of a pinhole array, including the different sizes of the different pinholes, a computer can recover a bright, high-resolution image numerically.'"
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Massively Parallel X-Ray Holography

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  • No pictures, smaller than a Nomad, lame.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kestasjk (933987)
      This [wikipedia.org] is what a typical X-ray diffraction pattern looks like.
      You need to get a sample like that from many angles of reflection, and then use Fourier transforms to piece it back together (which is why pictures wouldn't have been very interesting).

      Also I noticed some saying "this can't be used on humans" etc. The idea is to use it to map out the internal structure of molecules, not to see people's bones.
      e.g. DNA's discovery was based on this technique, and it's used constantly by the pharmaceutical compa
      • Please don't let anyone get away with calling the internet the cloud!

        Although I strongly agree with you I could not help wonder what Senator Steven Williams [wikipedia.org] would have thought:

        Ten movies streaming across that, that Cloud, and what happens to your own personal Cloud? I just the other day got... a Cloud was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday, I got it yesterday [Tuesday]. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the Cloud commercially.

  • by Graff (532189) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @11:12AM (#24456695)

    The hologram of the Spiroplasma bacterium was made in precisely the same way, with much brighter x-ray beams and a much shorter pulse of light. So bright was the flash of light that the sample was vaporized

    I guess this means they can't use the disclaimer: "No bacteria were harmed in the making of this hologram."

  • by gardyloo (512791) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @11:37AM (#24456857)

    I'm a bit skeptical. Whatever information one can get is present in the original diffraction pattern. "Processing" *probably* means interpolation, or convolution with the known regular array. One can only keep the same information already present, or lose information in this way. They probably mean that the pattern was smoothed so as to look nicer to the eye (which is certainly valid), but I doubt they increased resolution in any way.

    • by gardyloo (512791) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @11:48AM (#24456935)

      The arxiv paper (referenced elsewhere in these posts) mentions that the obtainable information drops rapidly at 75nm. Their phase-recovery algorithm, combined with the snr inherent in the system, conspire to do this. It's really not a function of the computer post-processing (which can't, after all, improve the image resolution). The caption on one of the figures in the linked article is simply a little misleading; however, the entire article is quite good. Science reporting ftw!

      • by FilipeMaia (550301) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @01:05PM (#24457541) Homepage
        By post processing they mean the phasing algorithm. The imaging method is divided in two parts. First they recover a low resolution image of the object that was imaged by looking directly at the hologram and deconvoluting with the known pinholes (in this case a Uniformly redundant array (URA), which assures that the deconvolution is well behaved). This step cannot achieve a resolution higher than the size of the pinholes in the URA. In a second step the entire image is phased, meaning that an algorithm is aplied to it that tries to mimick a lense. This increases the resolution obtained to the maximum possible, that is to the limit of the numerical aperture.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by gardyloo (512791)

          Interestingly enough, if one captures all of the phase data (as by using not-quite-evanescent waves), the resolution isn't restricted by the classical far-field limit of 1/2 wavelength. Because they're doing holography, they should be capturing at least *some* of the phase info.

    • by Raven737 (1084619) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @12:44PM (#24457375)
      i'm no expert, but i think by 'processing' they mean the fourier transform that is needed to get a 'usable' image from the hologram.
      So, no interpolation, but a kind of signal processing, sort of like what your cell phone/wifi does to make sense a jumble of transmissions.
      Check out:
      http://www-group.slac.stanford.edu/ais/publicDocs/presentation71.pdf [stanford.edu]
    • by Graff (532189) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @01:13PM (#24457595)

      Whatever information one can get is present in the original diffraction pattern. "Processing" *probably* means interpolation, or convolution with the known regular array. One can only keep the same information already present, or lose information in this way. They probably mean that the pattern was smoothed so as to look nicer to the eye (which is certainly valid), but I doubt they increased resolution in any way.

      It's not that the computer processing improved the resolution, it's that the computer processing is a necessary part of the process which improves the resolution.

      This article talks about taking normal x-ray radiation and using that to make a hologram. Holograms are usually made from laser illumination because a laser beam is coherent [wikipedia.org] light, light in which the waves are all in phase (in step) with each other. It is difficult to make an x-ray laser but there is another way to get coherent light and that is through the use of pinholes.

      The major problem of pinholes is that the smaller they are the less light is let through so the dimmer the image. However a large pinhole produces a very inaccurate (low resolution) image. One answer is to use a lot of small pinholes in the place of a few large pinholes. This is a great solution which produces sharp, bright images but now there is an additional problem, each pinhole makes a separate image and all these pinholes cause multiple overlapping images, offset a tiny bit from each other. This is where the computer works. Since the original pinhole pattern is known (you created it) you can feed that pattern into the computer and it can use that pattern to "slide" all the overlapping images so they exactly fit on each other. This makes a single, bright, sharp image.

      The computer is not increasing the resolution of the detector, that's fixed. What it is doing is working as part of a process to produce better images.

      • by Graff (532189) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @01:43PM (#24457859)

        Actually, after going back to the article and re-reading it I find that they are using pinholes to produce coherent reference light but they are only using two of them to do this, not a pattern of many of them. In the method described in the article the pattern is instead off to one side of the object to be imaged. It appears that they are using the pattern to deconvolute [wikipedia.org] the final image. Since the pattern is known you can use a deconvolution function based on that pattern to re-create the original pattern in the image. This has the side effect of correcting the image of the object you wish to view, increasing the resolution of the image.

        In essence they are using the pattern to calibrate their instrument in order to improve the imaging.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by FilipeMaia (550301)

        This is where the computer works. Since the original pinhole pattern is known (you created it) you can feed that pattern into the computer and it can use that pattern to "slide" all the overlapping images so they exactly fit on each other. This makes a single, bright, sharp image.

        The computer not only deconvolutes the pinhole pattern(which only provides an image with the same resolution as the pinhole) but it uses the entire diffraction in the detector and phases it to obtain an image, much like a lens would do. This achieves a resolution that is simply limited by the numerical aperture of the detector (which can be much smaller than the pinhole size).

  • So can I have my molecular assembler yet?

  • Appeal Denied (Score:2, Interesting)

    by RickRussellTX (755670)

    From TFA:

    The hologram of the Spiroplasma bacterium was made in precisely the same way, with much brighter x-ray beams and a much shorter pulse of light. So bright was the flash of light that the sample was vaporized...

    The prisoner's last meal consisted of an enriched sugar/protein broth. He elected not to speak to a priest. His last words were, "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done before."

  • by jeffb (2.718) (1189693) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @11:59AM (#24456987)

    2500 times better signal/noise, or (I think) 50 times better resolution, or 2500 times shorter exposures, or 2500 times less radiation intensity.

    Conventional X-ray and CT imaging are vastly different from X-ray holography, but this research might well end up contributing to those modalities as well. Everyone would be very happy to get useful resolution with vastly lowered exposures.

    • 2500 times better signal/noise, or (I think) 50 times better resolution, or 2500 times shorter exposures...

      The improvement in resolution will be much smaller than 50 times as the intensity drops very fast with increasing resolution. It's not simply the sqrt of the SNR.

      • I'd expect areal resolution, not linear, to go as the sqrt of SNR, meaning that a 2500-fold SNR increase would translate to 7x smaller linear resolution -- in other words, it would take you from (say) 1mm resolution to .14mm resolution in the clinical setting. But I may be overlooking some critical issues. My grasp of the math is pretty tenuous.
  • Besides these impressive achievements, it's worth noting that this technology has been inspired by the pinhole camera, a technique used by ancient Greeks.

    Wow! "Ancient" Greeks invented hidden cameras to spy on women in the bathroom and shower?

    Hell and I thought cameras were invented only within the last few hundred years.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mikael (484)

      Greeks and Optics [mlahanas.de]

      The earliest known written evidence of a camera obscura can be found in Aristotle's documentation of a device in 350 BC in Problemata" (Patti, 1993). Aristotle's apparatus contained a dark chamber that had a single small hole to allow for sunlight to enter. With this device, he made observations of the sun. He noted that no matter what shape the hole was, it would still display the sun correctly as a round object. Another observation that he made was that when the distance between the apert

  • Time to reinvent the Nipkow disk? [wikipedia.org]

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