Notable Grants

Research Insights

MRI: Track 1 Acquisition of a High-Resolution X-ray Computed Microtomography System with In Situ Capabilities for Multidisciplinary Research and Education

An award is made to the University of Georgia (UGA) to acquire a high-resolution x-ray computed microtomography (micro-CT) system with in situ capabilities that will support the research, training, teaching, and outreach efforts of more than 30 investigators at UGA, Georgia Tech and Emory University in the biological sciences, physical sciences, archaeological sciences, geological and environmental sciences, engineering disciplines, and related fields. The ability to characterize internal microscopic features in intact natural and engineered materials in three dimensions (3D) and at high resolution will fill a critical gap in regional and national imaging capabilities. This specific micro-CT system will be the first of its kind hosted by an open-access facility, Georgia Electron Microscopy (GEM) at UGA. GEM hosts a wide array of highly complementary state-of-the-art microscopes that facilitate multidisciplinary use and interdisciplinary collaboration, and it will provide physical and remote access to high computing resources for CT data analysis. In addition to research applications and the associated training of student users, the new instrument will support UGA’s academic mission by integrating x-ray micro-CT in more than 20 course offerings and numerous outreach efforts that target underrepresented students in STEM. Micro-CT demonstrations and modules will be incorporated in the existing activities offered by GEM, including tours and workshops, and the instrument will be used to acquire data sets and generate 3D printed models suitable for integration into K-12 lesson plans. 
This state-of-the-art micro-CT system provides exceptional capabilities for 3D microstructural analysis that include submicron absorption tomography imaging down to 0.5 microns, tri-contrast interferometry that simultaneously provides absorption, phase, and scattering contrast tomography imaging down to 3 µm, with sensitivity down to 0.3 µm, and an optimized design that enables 4D imaging of samples in controlled experimental environmental conditions. These unique capabilities will make a major impact on research productivity, directly supporting a large number and range of well-funded projects and enabling new, high-impact research that falls into three broad categories: (1) high-resolution imaging of 3D internal structures of biological, geological, archaeological and engineered samples for research applications ranging from developmental biology to functional polymers, (2) combining in situ experiments with time-lapse imaging to visualize fundamental processes, such as material deformation and fluid flow and transport that are essential to infrastructure resilience, sustainability of water resources, and plant productivity, and (3) acquiring data to develop the new generation of image analysis algorithms, phenotyping frameworks and pore-scale numerical models. In particular, the ability to perform phase-contrast tomography with the proposed instrument provides unprecedented lab-based micro-CT imaging of low-density materials, thereby pushing the frontiers of soft matter and life sciences research. 

Funder: National Science Foundation 

Amount: $1,177,779 

PI: Charlotte Garing, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geology