Phase-contrast imaging with a compact x-ray light source: System design

Yongjin Sung, Rajiv Gupta, Brandon Nelson, Shuai Leng, Cynthia H. McCollough, William S. Graves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


X-ray phase-contrast imaging (XPCI) overcomes the problem of low contrast between different soft tissues achieved in conventional x-ray imaging by introducing x-ray phase as an additional contrast mechanism. This work describes a compact x-ray light source (CXLS) and compares, via simulations, the high quality XPCI results that can be produced from this source to those produced using a microfocus x-ray source. The simulation framework is first validated using an image acquired with a microfocus-source, propagation-based XPCI (PB-XPCI) system. The phase contrast for a water sphere simulating a simple cyst submersed in muscle is evaluated and the evolution of PB-XPCI signal as the object to detector distance is increased is demonstrated. The proposed design of a PB-XPCI system using the CXLS is described and simulated images of a coronary artery compared between CXLS and microfocus source PB-XPCI systems. To generate images with similar noise levels, a microfocus source would require a 3000 times longer exposure than would the CXLS. We conclude that CXLS technology has the potential to provide high-quality XPCI in a medical environment using extremely short exposure times relative to microfocus source approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number043503
JournalJournal of Medical Imaging
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017


  • compact x-ray light source
  • microfocus x-ray sources
  • phase-contrast CT

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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