Maximize the Power of X-Ray Technology in Academic & Scientific Research

Industrial Computed Tomography (CT) is powerful technology that digitally peels back the layers of a specimen to create a 3D model without causing any physical damage. Its non-destructive properties have led museums, life science, paleontology, and geology fields to adopt the technology to study delicate materials, historical artifacts, and valuable samples.

X-ray for Life Sciences

CT scanning is a fitting solution for biomedical, microorganism, plant, and animal analysis applications. In academia, researchers may use industrial CT to study the internal morphology of biological tissues and structures. Botanical researchers may use the technology to understand seed morphology to aid in plant breeding and agricultural research.

Because many life science samples are small in structure to begin with, creating a high resolution 3D model of internal features is a great way to find flaws or imperfections that are otherwise undetectable. These scans can access the tiniest details with resolutions down to 0.4µm.

X-ray technology for Geology and Paleontology

Preservation is a crucial consideration when studying artifacts that are thousands of years old. Non-destructive X-ray scanning allows archaeologists to uncover hidden details, structures, inscriptions, and physical compositions while digitizing collections for preservation and future study. 

Geologic research benefits from CT similarly to archaeological studies. It provides tools to investigate rock formations and subsurface structures without degrading the sample by physical extraction. The 3D scanning technology also allows researchers to define an area of interest within a sample that could otherwise remain undiscovered. Defining a region of interest in a geologic sample enables researchers to segment different minerals, formations, or pore networks to uncover evolutionary processes.

CT Scanning in Application at EPFL

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, EPFL), a science and technology institution located in Switzerland, has used the RX Solutions UltraTom CT system to perform material analysis studies on rocks, insects, archaeological pieces, and bones. 

The organization states that not having to prepare a sample, cut and polish it like for microscope analysis has made their inspections easier and faster.

"The main benefits for us at EPFL are; the non-destructive aspect, the 3D visualization of the outside and inside of the sample."

- Gary Perrenoud, EPFL PIXE

Bamboo rhizome porosities in 3D - PIXE
Bamboo rhizome porosities in 3D - PIXE

In-Situ Capabilities

Industrial CT scanners allow the user to create experimental conditions that mimic a sample’s original environment and manipulate those elements to study the results. Applications include  characterizing the effects of geological elements (pressure, temperature, or fluid flows) or performing mechanical tests (tensile, compression, or bending). Obtaining real-time 3D characterization of a sample seamlessly incorporates in-line inspection for faster analysis and categorization without having to manipulate and prepare the sample.

CT scanning also brings in-situ analysis capabilities to museum institutions. The L. Pigorini National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography in Rome, Italy used in-situ industrial CT scanning to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the material characterization, previous restoration efforts, and conservative state of their collection of historical Japanese theater masks whose origins span across three centuries (XVII to XIX)*. Scans of the collection were all performed in-situ, allowing for the complete imaging of various layers, decorative material composition, and pigment used in each generation of masks.

In-situ analysis enables a more comprehensive understanding of samples, promotes efficiency in research workflow, and preserves findings for use across various research disciplines.

Why Use CT Scanning in Research Fields

Research has always been an essential part of human activity, evolving alongside advancement in tools and technologies. From astronomical observations that influenced medical practices of the Babylonians to the agricultural development and discoveries of the Han Dynasty, humans have a long history of experimenting, learning, and applying research findings for the betterment of future generations. Industrial CT scanning has found its place within academic and scientific fields to help analyze more samples, expedite research, and contribute to new findings every day. 

Request a complimentary scan to see what’s hidden inside your samples. 

Albertin, Fauzia, et al. “X-Ray Computed Tomography in Situ: An Opportunity for Museums and Restoration Laboratories.” MDPI, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 19 July 2019,

Cartwright, Mark. "Achievements of the Han Dynasty." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 14 Sep 2017. Web. 22 Jan 2024