Although a variety of methods, ranging from simple morphological examination to physical and chemical analysis, and DNA molecular biology, exist for authenticating Chinese medicinal materials(CMMs), no methods can achieve both the source species identification and quality evaluation of CMMs simultaneously. Furthermore, the methods that are currently available for the identification of CMMs, including both optical and electronic microscopy, usually entail strict requirements for sample preparation or testing environment, such as the slicing of super-thin sections, or processing with specific chemical reagents. These treatments not only damage the CMMs but may also cause some of the original microstructures to be missed. Additionally, they may even yield false results. Owing to the unique penetrating character of X-rays, X-ray phase contrast imaging(XPCI) can be used to realize the inner microstructures of CMMs through nondestructive imaging. With the higher flux and luminance of the third generation of synchrotron radiation facility, XPCI can provides clearer and finer microstructures of CMMs, which are mainly composed of C, H, O, and N elements, with better spatial and density resolutions. For more than ten years, the X-ray imaging group at the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics has investigated the microstructures of CMMs by XPCI and they have established and developed a quantitative X-ray phase contrast micro-CT for investigating the characteristic microstructures of CMMs. During this period, a variety of typical CMMs have been investigated, from two-dimensional (2D) radiography to three-dimensional (3D) micro-CT, from qualitative to quantitative. Taken together, these results verify that quantitative X-ray phase contrast micro-CT is a practical tool for the microscopic investigation of CMMs. Additionally, further efforts are being made to find the relationship between the microstructures' quantitative factors and active chemical components. At present, experimental results have demonstrated that the quality of CMMs can be evaluated directly via the quantitative information of their characteristic microstructures.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Mathematical Physics
- Computerized Tomography (CT) and Computed Radiography (CR)
- X-ray radiography and digital radiography (DR)