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3D microtomography offers new opportunities

Published: 5 September 2016

X-ray pictures of materials in 3D in a hundred times better resolution than before, which also can be done under load and under different temperatures. That is possible thanks to the new, state of the art microtomography system that is now available at Luleå University of Technology.

It is the John Field Laboratory for advanced mechanical engineering research that now gets a strong addition in the form of a high-resolution X-ray microtomography system, manufactured by Carl Zeiss X-ray Microscopy. The equipment will be used to characterize a range of different materials.

– The new system is the latest in microtomography and in combination with the associated load module (in-situ) for the mechanical and thermodynamic load of material samples, it is to my knowledge unique in Sweden, says Fredrik Forsberg, Associate Senior Lecturer at the research subject of Experimental Mechanics, Luleå University of Technology.

100 times higher resolution

The system allows for 3D imaging of a variety of materials, such as ore, mineral, metal, wood and polymera composite materials with sub-micron resolution.

– We can make 3D visualizations of material with a resolution that is over 100 times higher than before. Based on the image, you can make a quantitative analysis of the microstructure of the material, such as determining the size distributions at mineral grains, fibers, pores and cracks. The in-situ module also provides us with a unique opportunity to understand what is happening within the sample when exposed to load, heat or cold.

Opens for collaborations

There are several research subjects at Luleå University of Technology who together have applied to purchase the equipment. Fredrik Forsberg believe many will benefit greatly from it and that it will lead to a series of collaborative projects.

– One example of a recently started project is to work with LKAB to study how the microstructure of iron ore pellets is influenced by various parameters during the production process, and how this affects the next step, the pellet strength.

The microtomography has a price tag of around eight million SEK but thanks to researech collaboration with the manufacturer a discount was given. It is partially funded by the Kempe Foundation and LKAB and the other half is financed by the university lab fund.

– Anyone who is interested in the technology are welcome to get in touch. We hve developed a model with different user profiles, such as collaborative projects with common applications and publications, as well as directly financed projects from industry, says Fredrik Forsberg.