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Diamond Light Source has joined a new partnership to help researchers carry out experiments using X-ray computed tomography, a non-destructive technique to construct 3D scientific images.
National X-ray Computed Tomography (NXCT) is the National Research Facility for lab-based X-ray computed tomography providing 3D imaging facilities and data analysis, research knowledge and technical experience. NXCT is a £10m investment from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in capital and recurrent funding to support research in the UK. It brings together world-leading capability in lab-based X-ray Computed Tomography (XCT) from the universities of Manchester, Southampton, Warwick, University College London and Diamond Light Source. The NXCT facility in Manchester is hosted by the Henry Royce Institute for advanced materials.
NXCT’s mission is to provide access and expert support for both academia and industry, embracing both first-time users and more experienced researchers to run cutting-edge 3D and 3D time-lapse imaging experiments. Diamond’s role in the partnership is to provide expertise to bridge across the activities of the NXCT and Diamond to help deliver unparalleled 3D imaging capability for the UK.
Diamond is the UK’s national synchrotron and as such, the only facility in the collaboration capable of delivering ‘fast’ 3D XCT movies. Diamond’s imaging beamlines can be used for studies to capture dynamic processes in fine, 3D detail. Its high intensity X-rays can penetrate through thick materials, providing a tool for non-destructive examination of internal features beyond what is possible with laboratory techniques. For example, a scientific sample can be placed into a purpose-built experimental setup at Diamond to expose it to intense heat or pressure. A 3D movie can then be captured that shows the changes taking place inside the component, on the nanoscale. This can be useful in the Aerospace industry, for example, where determining the size and shape of cracks and other defects inside components such as aircraft parts can help with studies around unexpected failures that could have catastrophic results. Diamond’s unique imaging facilities and expertise will help the NXCT deliver world-leading capabilities in XCT.
Paul Quinn, Science Group Leader for Imaging and Microscopy at Diamond, said:
There are almost 300 journal papers in our database that used tomography in their studies and over 30 staff involved in tomography at Diamond, from beamline scientists, technicians and engineers to data acquisition and scientific computing staff. We have a vision to create the world’s best synchrotron-based imaging facility.
The NXCT partnership will help us achieve this goal by enabling us to provide and facilitate sample environment integration and in-situ experiments across both facilities, as well as providing experimental support and facilitate interactions to put researchers in touch with the right laboratory for their experiments. We are grateful to EPSRC for supporting this mission and excited to be a part of an initiative that will help address cross-council priorities such as digital manufacturing by improving X-ray Computed Tomography accessibility for UK researchers.
Diamond will work with NXCT to help guide potential users toward the right facilities for their studies, whether that be part of the extensive catalogue of lab-based instruments that the NXCT has put together, or one of Diamond’s beamlines. NXCT users will access Diamond via the standard routes and will benefit from the support of a joint appointee between Diamond and Manchester, a post funded 50% by the EPSRC grant to specifically support NXCT activities.
Visit the NXCT website to find out more about the UK’s National Research Facility for lab-based X-ray Computed Tomography.
To learn more about Diamond’s imaging capabilities visit the Imaging and Microscopy web pages.
Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
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