Phase-Contrast and High-Resolution Optics for X-Ray Microscopy

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH

Abstract: X-ray microscopy is a well-established technique for nanoscale imaging. Zone plates are used as microscope objectives and provide high resolution, approaching 10 nm, currently limited by fabrication issues. This Thesis presents zone plate optics that achieve either high resolution or phase contrast in x-ray microscopy. The high-resolution optics use high orders of the zone plate, which alleviates the demands on fabrication, and the phase-contrast optics are single-element diffractive optical elements that produce contrast by Zernike or differential-interference contrast methods. The advantage of phase contrast in x-ray microscopy is shorter exposure times, and is crucial in the hard x-ray regime. Microscopy in the absorption‑contrast region of the water-window (2.34 - 4.37 nm) also benefits from these optics. The development of the optics for a laboratory soft x-ray microscope spans from theoretical and numerical analysis of coherence and stray light to experimental implementation and testing. The laboratory microscope uses laser-produced plasma-sources in the water-window and is unique in its design and performance. It will be shown that the laboratory microscope in its current form is a user-oriented and stable instrument, and has been used in a number of applications. The implementation of a cryogenic sample stage for tomographic imaging of biological samples in their natural environment has enabled applications in biology, and 3D x-ray microscopy of cells was performed for the first time with a laboratory instrument. 

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