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X-ray specialist wins Latsis Prize

A German-born physicist, Franz Pfeiffer, has been awarded the National Latsis Prize for 2008 for his work on x-ray imaging.

Pfeiffer, who heads a research group at the Paul Scherrer Institute in canton Aargau and is also an assistant professor at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, won the SFr100,000 ($86,000) prize for demonstrating the practicality of a high-resolution technique known as dark-field x-ray imaging.

The technology developed by Pfeiffer, 35, and other Swiss-based researchers means that x-ray images could be sharper, offering better diagnostic results in the future.

Instead of the traditionally blurred pictures taken by radiologists or even security specialists, observers will be able to see the finer details of the person or object.

Other applications could include detection of tumours, and revealing dangerous cracks in materials used for aircraft propellers or turbines.

The Latsis Foundation was created by Greek shipping tycoon John S. Latsis, who died in Geneva in 2003.

Each year it gives out four university prizes valued at SFr25,000, as well as one national and one European Latsis prize each worth SFr100,000. The national prize honours the outstanding scientific achievements of a researcher aged 40 or less in Switzerland.