X-ray machines are all large devices that can only image hard structures such as bone, unless a contrast-enhancing solution such as barium is present in the patient ... right? Well, no, not all of them. A new system developed by researchers at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital is small enough to be considered portable, doesn't expose patients to as much radiation, and can image soft tissues in minute detail.
Ordinarily, X-ray machines emit beams of electromagnetic radiation from a single source. The experimental new machine, however, utilizes "a nanostructured surface with an array of tiny tips," each one of those micron-sized tips emitting its own beam of electrons. Those beams pass through a microstructured plate, and are converted into X-rays.