A group of Swedish researchers have managed to successfully create an image of an ancient Egyptian mummy’s hand at a microscopic level. To that end they leveraged a new type of computer tomography (CT) scan. Earlier, paleopathologists and archaeologists leveraged imaging technique such as CT scans and X-rays for animal and human mummies. Those are considered non-destructive. Those not just allowed to gain an insight into the life and death in ancient ages but also better comprehend modern diseases.
Both the imaging technique mainly work like this: Various materials absorb X-rays to different degrees. With the absorption contrast, it manages to generate various amounts of contrast within an image.
However, there is a small issue with the procedure. For examining bone and other dense and hard materials, the technique of absorption contrast works well. However, for soft tissues it fails to offer detailed information. To overcome the challenge, the group of scientists came up with the propagation-based phase-contrast imaging.
The biggest USP of propagation-based imaging is that it improves the contrast of X-ray images. By unearthing both the absorption and phase shift that happens as X-rays pass through a sample. It is quite similar to a ray of light that changes its direction as it passes through lens. By unraveling both the absorption and phase shift – this has been dubbed as phase-contrast CT by the researchers – greater contrast for soft tissues can be achieved. Using this technique, researchers were able to decode the adipose cells, nerves, and blood vessels that remained in the Egyptian mummy’s hand.