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Prof. Dr. Franz Pfeiffer

Laser Medicine, Technical University of Munich

Prof. Dr. Franz Pfeiffer

Prof. Dr. Franz Pfeiffer

© DFG / David Ausserhofer

An outstanding researcher with an exceptional ability to drive technological innovation, thirty-eight-year-old Franz Pfeiffer has already made a name for himself in the international X-ray imaging research community by pioneering new methods of visualizing soft tissue. Pfeiffer's discoveries exploit the phenomenon of phase shifting, which occurs as X-rays pass through soft tissue. An improved image contrast results from the interplay of constructive and destructive interference. Prior to Pfeiffer's groundbreaking work, phase-contrast X-ray imaging was only possible using synchrotron X-ray sources available at large-scale research facilities. Pfeiffer devised a unique method enabling the use of broadband X-ray transmission gratings for this purpose. He then showed that this approach could be used in combination with computer tomography to achieve previously unattainable levels of clarity and contrast in three-dimensional views of biomedical samples. In a second breakthrough, Pfeiffer succeeded in developing a method of utilising dark field imaging in laboratory X-ray instrumentation. Pfeiffer's discoveries are not only of importance to biophysical research, they have potentially enormous implications for the future of medical imaging and diagnostics, and will lead to significant improvements in mammography and computer tomography.

After studying physics at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Franz Pfeiffer completed his doctorate at Saarland University, conducting a number of experiments at major research facilities such as DESY in Hamburg. Pfeiffer carried out his post-doctoral research at the University of Illinois before joining the renowned Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland. In 2007 he took up an assistant professorship at the ETH Lausanne, and in 2009 he was called to the Chair of Applied Biophysics at the Technical University of Munich, where he is currently establishing a laboratory for biomedical imaging.