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Diamond Light Source is creating an imaging facility to allow researchers to create 3D images of samples including engineering components, biomaterials, fossils, organic materials and energy devices.

Due for completion in 2012, the X-ray Imaging and Coherence beamline at Diamond, I13, is designed for a broad range of scientific users from biomedicine, materials science, geophysics, astrophysics and archaeology sectors.

Its two branch lines – called the ‘imaging’ and ‘coherence’ branches – will provide tools for non-destructive examination of internal features ranging from the micro (a few thousandths of a millimetre) to the nano (a few millionths of a millimetre) scale.

The 3D X-ray tomography that will be performed on I13 has many applications.

It can be used to characterise the internal structure of porous materials such as trabecular bone or metal foams, or 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 will work alongside the University of Manchester to create the facility.

Diamond Light Source

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