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Phase-contrast imaging using radiation sources based on laser-plasma wakefield accelerators : state of the art and future development

Reboredo, D. and Cipiccia, S. and Grant, P. A. and Welsh, G. H. and Grant, D. W. and McKendrick, G. and Subiel, A. and Maneuski, D. and Wiggins, S. M. and Jaroszynski, D. A. (2015) Phase-contrast imaging using radiation sources based on laser-plasma wakefield accelerators : state of the art and future development. In: Proceedings of SPIE 9412, Medical Imaging 2015. SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering.. ISBN 9781628415025

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    Abstract

    Both the laser-plasma wakefield accelerator (LWFA) and X-ray phase-contrast imaging (XPCi) are promising technologies that are attracting the attention of the scientific community. Conventional X-ray absorption imaging cannot be used as a means of imaging biological material because of low contrast. XPCi overcomes this limitation by exploiting the variation of the refraction index of materials. The contrast obtained is higher than for conventional absorption imaging and requires a lower dose. The LWFA is a new concept of acceleration where electrons are accelerated to very high energy (~150 MeV) in very short distances (mm scale) by surfing plasma waves excited by the passage of an ultra-intense laser pulse (~1018 Wcm-2) through plasma. Electrons in the LWFA can undergo transverse oscillation and emit synchrotron-like (betatron) radiation in a narrow cone around the propagation axis. The properties of the betatron radiation produced by LWFA, such as source size and spectrum, make it an excellent candidate for XPCi. In this work we present the characterization of betatron radiation produced by the LWFA in the ALPHA-X laboratory (University of Strathclyde). We show how phase contrast images can be obtained using the betatron radiation in a free-space propagation configuration and we discuss the potential and limitation of the LWFA driven XPCi.