Beauty of science: Talbot carpet


They resemble snowflakes, but in fact are simulations of what happens to a plane wave that has passed through a phase-shifting line grating. Self-images are observed at different planes along the optical axis (horizontal), a phenomenon first observed by the photographer H.F. Talbot in 1836.

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Today, the Talbot effect is used to produce high-sensitivity phase-contrast and scattering-contrast X-ray images of biological and palaeontological specimens. An advanced 2D grating interferometer has recently been demonstrated at ESRF (I. Zanette et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 105, 248102 (2010)).


This article originally appeared in ESRFnews, March 2011. 

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Top image: Image credit: Irene Zanette.