Two new PRLs are dealing with x-ray phasing.
The first paper is de Jonge et al., “Quantitative Phase Imaging with a Scanning Transmission X-Ray Microscope” Phys. Rev. Lett. 100, 163902 (2008). Typically the differential phase contrast measurements become non-trivial for thick specimens, when the adsorption and phase-wrapping effects become significant. This paper resolves this problems when differential phase contrast measurements are done in scanning transmission x-ray microscopy mode (STXM), since the solution is overconstrained, allowing to arrive at unique phase and adsorption values.
The second paper is Johnson et al., “Coherent Diffractive Imaging Using Phase Front Modifications” Phys. Rev. Lett. 100, 155503 (2008).
Since phase is lost during the measurements, it is impossible to simply fourier-transform the coherent x-ray diffraction pattern to obtain a real-space image of an object with nanoscale resolution. There are numerous numerical approaches of phase-retrieval based on oversampling the diffraction pattern. This paper presents an alternative approach of introducing a phase plate, and deconvolving the set of phases resulting from the sample by scanning the phase object around, making the contribution from the phase plate known, and providing information on un-altered phases that would be observed if no phase plate was present. This technique is similar to ptychography, as it provides additional constraints that help arriving at unique solution in a rapidly convergent manner, except it scans the known phase plate, rather than the object being imaged.