Soft X-ray tomography (SXT) is a powerful imaging technique that generates quantitative, 3D images of the structural organization of whole cells in a near-native state. SXT is also a high-throughput imaging technique. At the National Center for X-ray Tomography (NCXT), specimen preparation and image collection for tomographic reconstruction of a whole cell require only minutes. Aligning and reconstructing the data, however, take significantly longer. Here we describe a new component of the high throughput computational pipeline used for processing data at the NCXT. We have developed a new method for automatic alignment of projection images that does not require fiducial markers or manual interaction with the software. This method has been optimized for SXT data sets, which routinely involve full rotation of the specimen. This software gives users of the NCXT SXT instrument a new capability - virtually real-time initial 3D results during an imaging experiment, which can later be further refined. The new code, Automatic Reconstruction 3D (AREC3D), is also fast, reliable, and robust. The fundamental architecture of the code is also adaptable to high performance GPU processing, which enables significant improvements in speed and fidelity.
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