Radiation imaging physics
Complex dark-field contrast and its retrieval in x-ray phase contrast imaging implemented with Talbot interferometry
Under the existing theoretical framework of x-ray phase contrast imaging methods implemented with Talbot interferometry, the dark-field contrast refers to the reduction in interference fringe visibility due to small-angle x-ray scattering of the subpixel microstructures of an object to be imaged. This study investigates how an object's subpixel microstructures can also affect the phase of the intensity oscillations.
Instead of assuming that the object's subpixel microstructures distribute in space randomly, the authors’ theoretical derivation starts by assuming that an object's attenuation projection and phase shift vary at a characteristic size that is not smaller than the period of analyzer grating G2 and a characteristic length dc. Based on the paraxial Fresnel–Kirchhoff theory, the analytic formulae to characterize the zeroth- and first-order Fourier coefficients of the x-ray irradiance recorded at each detector cell are derived. Then the concept of complex dark-field contrast is introduced to quantify the influence of the object's microstructures on both the interference fringe visibility and the phase of intensity oscillations. A method based on the phase-attenuation duality that holds for soft tissues and high x-ray energies is proposed to retrieve the imaginary part of the complex dark-field contrast for imaging. Through computer simulation study with a specially designed numerical phantom, they evaluate and validate the derived analytic formulae and the proposed retrieval method.
Both theoretical analysis and computer simulation study show that the effect of an object's subpixel microstructures on x-ray phase contrast imaging method implemented with Talbot interferometry can be fully characterized by a complex dark-field contrast. The imaginary part of complex dark-field contrast quantifies the influence of the object's subpixel microstructures on the phase of intensity oscillations. Furthermore, at relatively high energies, for soft tissues it can be retrieved for imaging with a method based on the phase-attenuation duality.
The analytic formulae derived in this work to characterize the complex dark-field contrast in x-ray phase contrast imaging method implemented with Talbot interferometry are of significance, which may initiate more activities in the research and development of x-ray differential phase contrast imaging for extensive biomedical applications.