A new nano-CT imaging technique expected to facilitate advances in life
sciences and material sciences may help clinicians, radiologists and
researchers see the structure of osteoporotic bone more clearly via
high-resolution, 3D images, according to a press release from Technische
Universitaet Muenchen, in Garching, Germany.
A team of researchers from the university, the Paul Scherrer Institute
and the ETH-Zurich developed the new nano-tomography method. The first images
made with the technique appear in the September issue of Nature.
With our newly developed nano-CT method it is now possible to
visualize the bone structure and density at high resolutions and in 3D,
Frank Pfeiffer, a professor of biomedical physics at Technische Universitaet
Muenchen, stated in the release. This enables us to do research on
structure changes related to
osteoporosis on a nanoscale and thus develop better
Pfeiffer uses the experimental setup he developed with his team at the Swiss
Light Source of the Paul Scherrer Institute, where the new nano-CT method was
Image: Markus Fischer,
In developing the system, Pfeiffers team processed multiple
CT images to generate 3D images of the interior of the human
body. They measured the intensity of the overall X-ray beams absorbed by the
objects initially studied, as well as the parts of the beams that were
diffracted in various directions. By analyzing the diffraction patterns, the
researchers learned valuable information about the imaged nanostructures, as
X-ray radiation is particularly sensitive to the tiniest of structural changes,
according to the release.
High-brilliance X-ray radiation and fast, low-noise pixel detectors
provided the precision with which the pictures needed to be made, Oliver Bunk,
a researcher at the Paul Scherrer Institute, noted in the release.
The diffraction patterns were then processed using an algorithm
developed by the team.
Using the new technique in a laboratory mouse showed small variations in
the specimens bone density with extreme precision, according to the
Although the new nano-CT procedure does not achieve the spatial
resolution currently available in
electron microscopy, it can because of the high
penetration of X-rays generate three-dimensional tomography images of
bone samples, Roger Wepf, director of the Electron Microscopy Center at
ETH Zurich, stated in the release.
Dierolf M, Menzel A, Thibault P, et al. Ptychographic X-ray computed
tomography at the nano-scale. Nature. 2010. 23;467(7314):436-439.
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