When photons illuminate a localised distribution of matter, subsequent acoustic emissions may be detected and decoded. This can give useful information regarding the scatterer. When x-ray pulses are used as the illuminating probe, they can interrogate the interior of optically-opaque samples. This takes us to the topic of the present paper: x-ray-induced acoustic computed tomography. Here, the previously mentioned acoustic signals can be used to infer three-dimensional information regarding the sample. Contrast agents, namely substances introduced into a sample to make it more visible, can make this form of acoustic computed tomography better. If this ultimately leads to an improved method for medical imaging, even in a niche area, it would make a contribution of lasting value. This paper contributes to that longer-term vision. In addition to its potential for practical application, the broad idea that underpins this work is fascinating from a fundamental perspective. A scatterer couples one form of incident field to a different form of scattered field. The sample is thus a photon-to-phonon transducer whose output acoustic field yields data for the inverse problem of reconstructing the three-dimensional distribution of matter in the scattering volume.
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