Welcome to the TomoLab

X-ray computed microtomography (micro-CT) is one of the most advanced techniques in the field of nondestructive evaluation tests. It allows imaging of the internal microstructure of different objects and materials, measuring the three-dimensional (3D) X-ray attenuation coefficient map of the sample. Thanks to this technique, the distribution of regions with different density and/or chemical composition inside the sample can be visualized by means of virtual slicing or using 3D volume rendering procedures.The TomoLab station at Elettra is an instrument offering scientists and engineers access to a state-of-the-art micro-CT system based on a microfocus source. The TomoLab has been designed as complementary to the SYRMEP beamline setup for micro-CT both fot the energy range available and for the X-ray beam size at sample. Due to the cone-beam geometry it is possible to achieve a spatial resolution close to the focal spot size. Wilkins & co. in 1996 have shown that radiographs made using the polychromatic beam from a microfocus X-ray generator do reveal phase jumps. Then, thanks to this property, at the TomoLab station it is possible to perform phase-contrast microCT measurements, also if a limited  spatial coherence with respect to a synchrotron X-ray beam could be achieved.
Because X-ray micro-CT is a nondestructive characterization technique, it represents a powerful investigation tool in many different applications, especially in the area of material science as well as geology or biomaterials. Through image analysis processing tools, it is possible to obtain quantitative information from the investigated samples. In particular, geometrical or morphological features inside the sample volume can be analysed and useful specific parameters can be extracted.

There is a wide range of industrial fields of interest, from mechanical components and electronic devices, to aerospace manufacturing. Concerning materials science, a micro-CT analysis is capable to analyze failure mechanisms, micro-cracks formation and propagation, internal defects, morphological details, stress-strain behaviour, and is generally useful when a correlation between physical and microscopic properties is required. In the field of earth science, the investigation of rocks and soils pore structure is important for both hydrogeology and petroleum engineering. Different kinds of porous media, like metallic and polymeric foams, can be also investigated by X-ray micro-CT. Other important applications are in the field of food science, wood industry and conservation of archeological finds.

Research highlights

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The teeth of a prehistoric fetus give us information about the last months of a mother and child, who lived 27.000 years BP

In this study, synchrotron and laboratory X-ray computed microtomography were combined to study the teeth of a fetus found in the pelvic area of the skeleton of a young girl. The fossil records were discovered in the “Ostuni 1” burial site (Puglia, Italy) and dated back over 27,000 years.

    A. Nava et. al; Scientific Reports, 7 (2017) 9427.

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3D Pore-network quantitative analysis in deformed carbonate grainstones

3D Pore-network quantitative analysis in deformed carbonate grainstones

A 3D investigation of the pore network properties in deformed carbonate grainstones cropping out in Sicily and Abruzzo regions (Italy). . In this study, the pore network properties of suitable rock samples were studied by quantitative analysis of X-ray microtomographic images using both synchrotron and microfocus sources. 
 M. Zambrano et. al; Marine and Petroleum Geology 82 (2017) 251-264.

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A comparative high-resolution endostructural study reveal Neanderthal-like features in 450,000-year-old human dental remains from the Italian Peninsula

Fossil records enable a detailed reconstruction of our planet’s history and of the evolution of our species. In particular, teeth are a sort of biological archive that record in their structures (enamel, dentine and pulp chamber) the different phases of the human evolution.
 C. Zanolli et al., PLoS ONE, 13 (2018): e0189773

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Recycling alginate composites for thermal insulation

Lab-based X-ray comuted microtomography was used to characterize the microstructure of natural-based, effective thermal insulators that are fully recyclable. This simultaneously tackle the issue of energy efficiency and that of a sustainable sourcing for these materials, thanks to a cradle-to-cradle approach and in the spirit of the circular economy.  
 M. Cibinel et al., Carbohydrate Polymers, 251 (2021) 116995

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The TomoLab station is operational since 2006 and it has been realized by a collaboration between ELETTRA and Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile e Ambientale and Corso di Laurea Odontoiatria e Protesi Dentaria of the Università diTrieste.



Last Updated on Sunday, 06 November 2016 17:09