University of Manchester

General introduction to X-ray tomography imaging

A 3D render of the internal structure of a carbon fibre turbine blade

The Manchester X-ray Imaging Facility is one of the worlds’ leading research groups dedicated to using x-ray computed tomography as a tool for cutting edge research across biological, physical and engineering sciences. 

Introduction to x-ray tomography

X-ray Computed Tomography (CT) is based on similar technology to that used by doctors when they image a broken bone. However, rather than taking just one 2D X-ray image (or radiograph), lots of radiographs are taken as an object is rotated.  Each image is taken from a very slightly different angle.  The series of 2D radiographs can then be mathematically reconstructed into a 3D image. 

CT was originally developed in the 1970’s for medical imaging, and is routinely used as a diagnostic tool in routine health checks.  However, in the last 20 years we have developed the technology to allow the rapid CT imaging of a wide range of objects; from living tissue to turbine blades, from solidifying metals to fracturing ceramics and flowing liquids.  

The real advantage of CT imaging as a tool for scientific research it that it is non-destructive, and by moving through a visualisation of the reconstructed 3D object, it is possible to reveal, quantify internal structures and track how they evolve over time, while still leaving the original object intact.

If you are considering using CT in your research, please contact us to discuss you project in more detail. 

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