That limits how often patients can be tested with CT systems, 3D mamography for breast cancer screening and other 3D X-ray approaches.
"The beauty of using the ghost imaging technique for 3D imaging is that most of the X-ray dose is not even directed toward the object you want to capture," said Dr Kingston.
"That's the ghostly nature of what we're doing
"There is great potential to significantly lower doses of X-rays in medical imaging with 3D ghost imaging and to really improve early detection of diseases like breast cancer."
The research team, which included the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility and Monash University in Melbourne, used ghost imaging to take 3D X-ray images of an object's inside.
In a statement, ANU said the researchers developed a new ghost imaging measurement system using a series of patterned X-ray beams.
They then used the measurements and a computer to create a 2D X-ray project.
This process was completed in 3D
"Our most important innovation is to extend this 2D concept to achieve 3D imagery of the interior of objects that are opaque to visible light," said Dr Kingston in the statement.
"3D X-ray ghost imaging, or ghost tomography, is a completely new field, so there is a chance for the scientific community and industry to work together to explore and develop this exciting innovation."
Monash University's professor David Paganin said the team's achievement could be compared to the early days of electron microscopes, which could only achieve a magnification of 14 times.
"This result was not as good as could be obtained with even the crudest of glass lenses using visible light," Professor Paganin, one of the study's co-researchers, said.
"However, the microscope using electrons instead of light had the potential – realised only after decades of subsequent development – to see individual atoms, which are much tinier than an ordinary microscope using visible light can see."