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Berlin institute sets world record for fastest 3D tomographic images

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | August 14, 2018
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Producing an image every 40 milliseconds, the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin’s BESSY II X-ray source holds the record for the fastest generation of 3D tomographic images.

Designing an ultra-stable turntable that rotates around its axis at a constant speed, researchers have devised a more affordable solution that is capable of generating 25 three-dimensional tomographic images a second; testing it out by evaluating the granules of aluminum alloy that become a metallic foam when heated.

"We wanted to develop a better understanding of how pores form in the grains – whether they also reach the granule surfaces, and to what extent this process varies in different granules", said Dr. Francisco Garcia-Moreno, the lead researcher and deputy head of HZB’s Institute of Applied Materials, said in a statement. “It is a question of practical relevance that is also of interest to industry.”
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Conventional solutions cost several hundred thousand dollars, with the most advanced capable of producing up to 20 images per second.

Using specialized optics for a fast CMOS camera during the preliminary stages of work enables simultaneous diffraction to take place which, in turn, makes it possible to record approximately 2000 projections per second. These projections can then construct 25 images in total.

Within their analysis of the granules of aluminum alloys, researchers mounted a powerful infrared lamp above the metal granulate to heat the sample to about 650 degrees Celsius, generating a complete 3D tomographic image with a spatial resolution of 2.5 micrometers (pixel size) every 40 milliseconds.

The production of the nearly 400 tomographic 3D images enabled researchers to view the detailed, time-resolved analysis of the process while it took place.

"Granules of metallic compounds might fill complicated shapes better while foaming than foams manufactured from a block of metal. However, the molded part will only be able to withstand stress if the grains also bond closely with one another during foaming,” he said. “With the ultra-fast 3D tomography developed at BESSY II, this can now be observed very precisely – as well as a multitude of other dynamic processes.”

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