X-ray phase contrast tomography (XPCT) is widely used for 3D imaging of objects with weak contrast in X-ray absorption index but strong contrast in refractive index decrement. To reconstruct an object imaged using XPCT, phase retrieval algorithms are first used to estimate the X-ray
phase projections, which is the 2D projection of the refractive index decrement, at each view. Phase retrieval is followed by refractive index decrement reconstruction from the phase projections using an algorithm such as filtered back projection (FBP). In practice, phase retrieval is most
commonly solved by approximating it as a linear inverse problem. However, this linear approximation often results in artifacts and blurring when the conditions for the approximation are violated.
In this paper, we formulate phase retrieval as a non-linear inverse problem, where we
solve for the transmission function, which is the negative exponential of the projections, from XPCT measurements. We use a constraint to enforce proportionality between phase and absorption projections. We do not use constraints such as large Fresnel number, slowly varying phase, or Born/Rytov
approximations. Our approach also does not require any regularization parameter tuning since there is no explicit sparsity enforcing regularization function. We validate the performance of our non-linear phase retrieval (NLPR) method using both simulated and real synchrotron datasets. We compare
NLPR with a popular linear phase retrieval (LPR) approach and show that NLPR achieves sharper reconstructions with higher quantitative accuracy.