We assesses the efficiency of x-ray Talbot interferometry (XTI), a technique based on the Talbot effect for measuring a wavefront gradient, in terms of how quickly it can capture a high-quality phase image with a large signal-to-noise ratio for a given incident photon number. Photon statistics cause errors in the phase of the moiré fringes and impose a detection limit on the wavefront gradient. The relation between the incident photon number and the detection limit is determined, and a figure of merit of XTI for a monochromatic cone beam is then defined. The dependence of the figure of merit on optical system parameters, such as grating pitch and position, is then discussed. The effects of varying the pattern height and linewidth of the second grating are shown for rectangular and trapezoidal teeth. Finally, we show how to design a practical cone-beam Talbot interferometer for certain boundary conditions.
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