We show that x-rays from a recently demonstrated table top source of bright, ultrafast, coherent synchrotron radiation [Kneip et al., Nat. Phys. 6, 980 (2010)] can be applied to phase contrast imaging of biological specimens. Our scheme is based on focusing a high power short pulse laser in a tenuous gas jet, setting up a plasma wakefield accelerator that accelerates and wiggles electrons analogously to a conventional synchrotron, but on the centimeter rather than tens of meter scale. We use the scheme to record absorption and phase contrast images of a tetra fish, damselfly and yellow jacket, in particular highlighting the contrast enhancement achievable with the simple propagation technique of phase contrast imaging. Coherence and ultrafast pulse duration will allow for the study of various aspects of biomechanics.

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