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Purpose: We investigate an analyzer-less x-ray interferometer with a spatially modulated phase grating (MPG) that can deliver three modalities (attenuation image, phase image, and scatter images) in breast computed tomography (BCT). The system can provide three x-ray modalities while preserving the dose to the object and can achieve attenuation image sensitivity similar to that of a standard absorption-only BCT. The MPG system works with a source, a source-grating, a single phase grating, and a detector. No analyzer is necessary. Thus, there is an approximately 2x improvement in fluence at the detector for our system compared with the same source-detector distance Talbot-Lau x-ray interferometry (TLXI) because the TLXI has an analyzer after the object, which is not required for the MPG. Approach: We investigate the MPG BCT system in simulations and find a clinically feasible system geometry. First, the mechanism of MPG interferometry is conceptually shown via Sommerfeld-Rayleigh diffraction integral simulations. Next, we investigate source coherence requirements, fringe visibility, and phase sensitivity dependence on different system parameters and find clinically feasible system geometry. Results: The phase sensitivity of MPG interferometry is proportional to object-detector distance and inversely proportional to a period of broad fringes at the detector, which is determined by the grating spatial modulation period. In our simulations, the MPG interferometry can achieve about 27% fringe visibility with clinically realistic BCT geometry of a total source-detector distance of 950 mm and source-object distance of 500 mm. Conclusions: We simulated a promising analyzer-less x-ray interferometer, with a spatially sinusoidal MPG. Our system is expected to deliver the attenuation, phase and scatter image in a single acquisition without dose or fluence detriment, compared with conventional BCT.

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Journal of Medical Imaging