Phase Contrast Imaging Flagship Node Trieste

The Italian Phase Contrast Imaging Flagship Node is based on the SYRMEP beamline of the Elettra Synchrotron light source (Trieste). The main characteristics of Synchrotron Radiation, namely monochromaticity, high intensity and spatial coherence, allow the effective application of phase contrast techniques. Differently from conventional radiology, where the image formation relies on the absorption properties of the sample, these approaches are sensitive to the phase shifts produced by the sample on the incoming X-rays. Phase contrast is particularly effective for imaging of soft biological tissues, where the conventional technique has strong limitations due to the poor intrinsic X-ray absorption. The beamline provides two stations working with monochromatic or white/pink X-ray beam for planar and Computed micro-Tomography (microCT) imaging. A CT system based on a micro-focus X-ray source, named TomoLab, is available, if required in the proposal, as auxiliary facility. The Node offers full packages including image acquisition, reconstruction and data reduction tools.

Specialties and expertise of the Node

Being part of the Elettra facility, the SYRMEP beamline is open to external users since 2000. The beamline control system has a user friendly interface, to facilitate the access by researchers without specific knowledge of Synchrotron Radiation. The beamline staff has several years of expertise in X-ray techniques, image processing and analysis, matured collaborating with users and imaging groups of other laboratories. Competences in application of new modalities like the low dose phase contrast CT, suited for in-vivo studies, and in dosimetry, have also been developed. A software package for CT reconstruction, SYRMEP Tomo Project (STP), has been specifically designed for the beamline users and offers flexible solutions to satisfy the various experimental needs. The research team has also developed Pore3D, a software library for quantitative analysis of 3D images. The library includes several functions and procedures for performing filtering, segmentation, skeletonization as well as the extraction of quantitative values.

Offered Technologies:

  • Phase Contrast Imaging

Instrument highlights

Special features of instruments at the Italian Node are:

  • The possibility to perform multi-scale Synchrotron Radiation imaging in propagation-based phase contrast modality at different resolution levels (imaging pixel sizes from 1 µm to 50 µm, according to the sample sizes and characteristics).
  • The use of a dedicated Analyzer Based Imaging setup working with a monochromatic beam in the X-ray range between 15 keV and 35 keV.
  • The possibility to optimize the imaging protocol and reconstruction workflow according to the specific application (using the different pre-processing/reconstruction algorithms available in the STP).
  • The high flexibility of the experimental station that allows to fulfill different user requirements (in-situ, implementation of new instrumentation, etc.).

Contact details

Dr. Giuliana Tromba
SYRMEP Beamline Coordinator

SYRMEP Beamline:


Pore3d Library:

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