X-ray tomography is the construction of a three dimensional image from two dimensional projections taken at different orientations (usually with phase contrast or absorption contrast imaging). The tuneability of synchrotron X-rays make it possible to provide increased contrast images, and the coherent nature and high intensity of synchrotron X-rays have led to significant developments in this field, particularly in phase tomography which in the past has required extremely complex instrumentation.
High intensity, monochromatic, highly coherent synchrotron radiation allow high spatial resolution with a good signal to noise ratio. High energy synchrotron X-rays can penetrate through thicker materials, providing a tool for non-destructive examination of internal features. The parallel, monochromatic beam enhances the image quality beyond what is possible with laboratory techniques.
Tomography has many applications in the materials science, engineering and biomedical fields. It can be used to characterise the internal structure of porous materials such as trabecular bone or metal foams. Tomography can be used to determine the size and shape of cracks and other defects inside components such as aircraft parts, where unexpected failures could have catastrophic results. Because it is non-destructive, X-ray tomography can be used to study the internal structure of precious and unique objects in archaeology and palaeontology – for example studying ancient insects fossilised in amber.
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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