Soft X-ray Tomography

Soft X-ray Tomography

Our understanding of cell structure and function depends heavily on imaging techniques. Consequently, the emergence of a new imaging modality is met with great excitement, since this event always leads to fresh insights and new discoveries. The NCXT has been the driving force behind the establishment of soft x-ray tomography (SXT) as a new modality for imaging cells. A major part of this effort has been the design, construction and operation of XM-2, a soft x-ray microscope at the Advance Light Source in Berkeley, California. SXT can be used to quantitatively image whole, hydrated cells - including eukaryotic cells - 3-dimensions. SXT imaging is both unique and complementary to existing imaging techniques, such as light and electron microscopy. The soft x-ray illuminating photons used in SXT penetrate biological materials deeper than electrons, allowing specimens up to 10 um thick to be imaged. The contrast in SXT is produced directly by the differential absorption of x-rays. Therefore, there is no need to dehydrate or stain specimens prior to being imaged. SXT can produce high-resolution views of specimens that are held in a near-native state.

You can read about XM-2 below, or download this paper as a pdf.

In addition to data acquisition, we are collaborating with Dr. Chao Yang to develop AREC3D, a software package for automated data processing and reconstruction.

Useful links related to soft x-ray tomography:

The Advanced Light Source (ALS website)
Tutorial on synchrotron radiation (from the ALS)
The Center for X-ray Optics (CXRO), fabricators of our zone plates
Other X-ray Microscopes

The below presentation contains photos taken at key points during the construction of XM-2.