Real-Space x-ray tomographic reconstruction of randomly oriented objects with sparse data frames
Schemes for X-ray imaging single protein molecules using new x-ray sources, like x-ray free electron lasers (XFELs), require processing many frames of data that are obtained by taking temporally short snapshots of identical molecules, each with a random and unknown orientation. Due to the small size of the molecules and short exposure times, average signal levels of much less than 1 photon/pixel/frame are expected, much too low to be processed using standard methods. One approach to process the data is to use statistical methods developed in the EMC algorithm (Loh & Elser, Phys. Rev. E, 2009) which processes the data set as a whole. In this paper we apply this method to a real-space tomographic reconstruction using sparse frames of data (below 10-2 photons/pixel/frame) obtained by performing x-ray transmission measurements of a low-contrast, randomly-oriented object. This extends the work by Philipp et al. (Optics Express, 2012) to three dimensions and is one step closer to the single molecule reconstruction problem. © 2014 Optical Society of America.