We review the recent progress achieved by our international collaboration on novel imaging techniques based on high-brightness and highly coherent synchrotron sources. After outlining the background, we will discuss the technical progress of recent years. Then, we will exemplify the applications with a number of cases in materials science and life sciences, in particular neurobiology. New results on metal electrodeposition will be used to practically illustrate the impact of the techniques in this important technological area and in general its potential for materials research. Finally, we will briefly comment on the foreseeable technical improvements and on their positive consequences.