Dynamic CT Imaging and the Laboratory Opportunities it Provides

To better understand the influence of environment on specimen development, 4D X-ray Computed Tomography (CT) has quickly emerged as a crucial imaging method, with Dynamic CT enabling real in situ investigations ranging from plant growth to load testing of bones and implants.

Due to its non-destructive nature, micro-CT is the ideal method for obtaining 3D internal data of the same sample over time. The combination of taking different scans over time is generally known as ‘4D’ imaging but can be described more specifically as time-lapse or dynamic CT. Time-lapse is useful for samples that undergo slow change and when long imaging time is required. Dynamic CT is used for examining much shorter events, on the order of seconds to a few hours.  Results from dynamic CT are able to show how materials change under different environments or external conditions over short time periods. In some situations, the sample itself can form or deform on its own (swelling, growing, drying, etc.); in others, external parameters can be altered by utilizing in situ stages, which allow a change in temperature or pressure (i.e. compression or tension). Especially for the case of external manipulation, dynamic CT is the only way to accurately see a change in an uninterrupted way. Time-lapse may be used for these applications, but the stimulus must be paused during the scan resulting in non-ideal experimental conditions and creating gaps in data collection during potentially critical time ranges.

Synchrotron facilities have been the forerunners for many CT improvements, providing excellent image quality and high spatial and temporal resolution. While image quality and spatial resolution have been significantly improved in the laboratory, these advances have often come at the expense of temporal resolution, i.e. slow scan times. Recent developments at TESCAN have enabled the ability to perform dynamic CT, and real in situ experiments, with temporal resolutions below 10 seconds while maintaining sufficient resolution and image quality.

The popularity of micro CT and 4D imaging is growing at a rapid rate, but dynamic CT experiments are rare, especially in the lab. This can be explained by the fact that during each step of the process (acquisition, reconstruction, visualization, and analysis), undertaking these experiments has some clear challenges. To this point, dedicated software and hardware tools have been developed by TESCAN to facilitate the execution of these dynamic CT experiments in a streamlined and intuitive workflow, making the technique more approachable and practical in the lab.

In this application note, the innovations and challenges which have led to 4D imaging, and dynamic CT in particular, are explored through an examination of germinating cress seeds utilizing a TESCAN DynaTOM CT system. The DynaTOM is a unique gantry based system where the sample remains stationary while the source and detector rotate around it. This architecture is expressly designed to perform dynamic CT on complex in situ experiments or delicate samples. Please download the application note and feel free to reach out to TESCAN for more information.

Want to know more? Click here to read the full application note.


Founded in 1991 by a group of managers and engineers from Tesla with its electron microscopy history starting in the 1950s, today TESCAN is a globally renowned supplier of Focused Ion Beam workstations, Scanning Electron Microscopes and Optical Microscopes.  TESCAN’s innovative solutions and collaborative nature with its customers have won it a leading position in the world of nano- and microtechnology.

TESCAN is pioneering the emerging field of dynamic CT in the laboratory and offers innovative micro-CT systems that facilitate a diverse range of applications. Our micro-CT systems – CoreTOM, DynaTOM, and UniTOM XL – are designed for high throughput and flexibility, offering novel dynamic CT workflows that enable a host of in situ and 4D applications, from Earth Science to Materials Science and beyond.

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Last updated: Jun 19, 2020 at 8:11 AM


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