A third-generation synchrotron radiation source provides enough brilliance to acquire complete tomographic data sets at 100 nm or better resolution in a few minutes. To take advantage of such high-brilliance sources at the Advanced Photon Source, we have constructed a pipelined data acquisition and reconstruction system that combines a fast detector system, high-speed data networks, and massively parallel computers to rapidly acquire the projection data and perform the reconstruction and rendering calculations. With the current setup, a data set can be obtained and reconstructed in tens of minutes. A specialized visualization computer makes rendered three-dimensional (3D) images available to the beamline users minutes after the data acquisition is completed. This system is capable of examining a large number of samples at sub-μm 3D resolution or studying the full 3D structure of a dynamically evolving sample on a 10 min temporal scale. In the near future, we expect to increase the spatial resolution to below 100 nm by using zone-plate x-ray focusing optics and to improve the time resolution by the use of a broadband x-ray monochromator and a faster detector system.

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