3D imaging takes centre stage at new UK facility

A £2million X-ray imaging centre supporting a range of high resolution and large scale computed tomography systems has been officially opened at the University of Southampton.

Funded in part by the EPSRC, the µ-VIS facility is designed to enable the internal structures of objects to be studied at resolutions down to 200nm, without the need to break open or damage them. The state of the art centre will enable 3D images to be built up from 2D X-ray projections of the object being examined. This computed tomography technique is already widely used in medicine and other fields. But the centre, which is equipped with five different imaging systems, is said to be able to complete scans with 'exceptional' speed and handle larger objects than any other UK university facility. Professor Ian Sinclair, the centre's director, said: "It's our close integration of state of the art imaging hardware, world class computing and image processing expertise needed to turn the resulting 3D data into new scientific results that will allow us to break new ground. "There are many permutations of object type and size to consider, but for certain classes we can produce images 10 times faster than conventionally achievable and we're one of very few groups worldwide who can scan objects approaching 2m in length and 1m in width with a micro-focus X-ray source." Prof Sinclair believes the centre will enable new insights to be secured in engineering, as well as in modern environmental science. "This Centre will be a real asset to the UK research community", said Sinclair. "3D images of the kind we're producing will shed new light on all sorts of crucial issues, from keeping planes in the air to the impacts of climate change."