Phase contrast x-ray imaging (PCXI) is a promising imaging modality, capable of sensitively differentiating soft tissue structures at high spatial resolution. However, high sensitivity often comes at the cost of a long exposure time or multiple exposures per image, limiting the imaging speed and possibly increasing the radiation dose. Here, we demonstrate a PCXI method that uses a single short exposure to sensitively capture sample phase information, permitting high speed x-ray movies and live animal imaging. The method illuminates a checkerboard phase grid to produce a fine grid-like intensity reference pattern at the detector, then spatially maps sample-induced distortions of this pattern to recover differential phase images of the sample. The use of a phase grid is an improvement on our previous absorption grid work in two ways. There is minimal loss in x-ray flux, permitting faster imaging, and, a very fine pattern is produced for homogenous high spatial resolution. We describe how this pattern permits retrieval of five images from a single exposure; the sample phase gradient images in the horizontal and vertical directions, a projected phase depth image, an edge-enhanced image, and a type of scattering image. Finally, we describe how the reconstruction technique can achieve subpixel distortion retrieval and study the behavior of the technique in regard to analysis technique, Talbot distance, and exposure time.
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