A state-of-the-art X-ray microscope (XRM), capable of generating manipulable, three-dimensional renderings of objects in extraordinary detail, has been installed at TWI.
The Zeiss Xradia Versa 520, located in TWI's newly expanded Cambridge headquarters, greatly enhances the opportunities for research available to students undertaking postgraduate degrees at the National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC), and adds another dimension to the range of inspection and analysis services TWI is able to offer its Member companies.
The microscope has applications across a number of industry sectors, including oil and gas, aerospace, medical and electronics.
To facilitate non-destructive testing and materials research, it can be used to characterise materials, observe fractures and their mechanics and perform in-situ, time-dependent (4D) tensile compression studies. In electronics it can be used for failure analysis, package construction analysis and manufacturing process optimisation.
The XRM, which is capable of submicron imaging, uses a first-of-its-kind compositional contrast system and features a true spatial resolution of 0.7µm and a minimum voxel size of 70nm. Where traditional tomography relies on a single stage of geometric magnification, this high-specification XRM features a unique two-stage process based on synchrotron-calibre optics.
Advanced capabilities include a high-aspect-ratio tomography mode for flat samples and the dual energy contrast optimiser, which allows imaging of samples that contain a range of materials with similar radiographic contrast. The XRM is a tool that drastically expands the imaging capabilities for engineers, researchers and students studying at NSIRC.
The microscope was purchased using money awarded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to Brunel University London, lead academic partner at NSIRC and longstanding collaborator with TWI through the Brunel Innovation Centre.
A video showing a three-dimensional rendering of an ultrasonic transducer viewed through the microscope can be viewed on the TWI YouTube channel:
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