Scientists scanned donated human organs, including lungs, from a Covid-19 donor using a new groundbreaking imaging technology called Hierarchical Phase-Contrast Tomography (HiP-CT). HiP-CT offers 3D mapping at many scales, allowing clinicians to see the entire organ for the first time by imaging it in its entirety and then zooming down to the cellular level. The European Synchrotron (a particle accelerator) at Grenoble, France, provides X-rays for the procedure.
The accelerator currently has the brightest source of X-rays globally, 100 billion times brighter than a hospital X-ray, thanks to its recent Extremely Brilliant Source upgrade (ESRF-EBS).
Researchers can see blood capillaries five microns in diameter (a tenth of the diameter of a hair) in an entire human lung due to this high brilliance. A clinical CT scan can only resolve blood vessels about 100 times larger, around 1mm in diameter.