High-resolution μCT of a mouse embryo using a compact laser-driven X-ray betatron source.
Cole JM., Symes DR., Lopes NC., Wood JC., Poder K., Alatabi S., Botchway SW., Foster PS., Gratton S., Johnson S., Kamperidis C., Kononenko O., De Lazzari M., Palmer CAJ., Rusby D., Sanderson J., Sandholzer M., Sarri G., Szoke-Kovacs Z., Teboul L., Thompson JM., Warwick JR., Westerberg H., Hill MA., Norris DP., Mangles SPD., Najmudin Z.
In the field of X-ray microcomputed tomography (μCT) there is a growing need to reduce acquisition times at high spatial resolution (approximate micrometers) to facilitate in vivo and high-throughput operations. The state of the art represented by synchrotron light sources is not practical for certain applications, and therefore the development of high-brightness laboratory-scale sources is crucial. We present here imaging of a fixed embryonic mouse sample using a compact laser-plasma-based X-ray light source and compare the results to images obtained using a commercial X-ray μCT scanner. The radiation is generated by the betatron motion of electrons inside a dilute and transient plasma, which circumvents the flux limitations imposed by the solid or liquid anodes used in conventional electron-impact X-ray tubes. This X-ray source is pulsed (duration <30 fs), bright (>1010 photons per pulse), small (diameter <1 μm), and has a critical energy >15 keV. Stable X-ray performance enabled tomographic imaging of equivalent quality to that of the μCT scanner, an important confirmation of the suitability of the laser-driven source for applications. The X-ray flux achievable with this approach scales with the laser repetition rate without compromising the source size, which will allow the recording of high-resolution μCT scans in minutes.