Next Generation Multi-Dimensional X-Ray Imaging

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Materials

Abstract

Our previous platform grant (PG) was aimed at developing the residual stress and imaging unit to extend our measurement and imaging capability beyond existing time and length scales and to become a world leading centre. This has now been achieved. The international impact of our research was recognised by the award of the most prestigious prize in the HE sector, the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education (2012-2014) for "New Techniques in X-Ray Imaging of Materials Critical for Power, Transport and Other Key Industries." Further we have just been awarded £18m by HEFCE and £4.2m by EPSRC for capital investment to achieve a step jump in our instrumentation.

This PG renewal will enable us to invent new, and develop emerging, techniques to see in 3D events that have never been seen this way before. This will maximise the benefit of the capital investment bringing together X-ray and electron imaging to examine materials behaviour under demanding environments. Many of the instruments will be completely new. The PG will enable us to have a multidisciplinary team of mathematicians, detector experts, instrument developers and applications materials scientists to explore new regimes and undertake new science. For example, normally X-rays pictures are collected in black in white (just like the x-ray radiographs in hospitals). We have developed a detector that can see in 'colour'. This will enable us to 'see' the composition of the objects in our 3D images.

Normally X-ray imaging can see different phases but not the grains making up the materials. Recently together with scientists in Denmark and at the European Synchrotron in Grenoble we have developed a method to see the different grains inside a sample non-destructively. Currently this must be done using synchrotron X-rays at large facilities - we will develop a laboratory system capable of this.

Finally we have recently been awarded an 5 x EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training and we will train the PhD students in the imaging techniques we develop through the PG.

Planned Impact

The current Manchester residual stress and imaging facility has achieved a very wide range of impacts beyond the >200 papers that have arisen out of previous platform grant funding as recognised by the Queens Anniversary Award for 'New techniques in x-ray imaging of materials critical for power, transport and other key industries'. We envisage the PG funding will enable us to have even greater impact.

In relation to our impact on knowledge we have been able to work with over 200 researchers at the facility from 26 countries, and scientists from 35 UK higher education institutes. The new PG would enable us to develop techniques on a wide range of new pieces of equipment, many of which are completely unique. This will have a big impact on the way we see the world and our knowledge about it. In particular it will allow us to explore materials behaviour under a range of demanding environments. A unique feature will be our ability to connect many instruments across a range of scales and connect structural information with chemical mapping.

With regard to economic impacts we have worked with 90 companies. The New Characterisation facility has been funded with £99m of complementary industry funding from companies such as BP plc; Rolls-Royce; AMEC; Sellafield; NNL; FEI Company; Xradia; Rapiscan Systems; AREVA; Westinghouse. Many of the methods we have developed have been transferred directly into industry and we have set up a small self-sustaining activity that applies our methods to industrial problems.

The Facility has been an effective incubator for academic leaders with 7 PG researchers going on to lectureships and 2 becoming instrument scientists at international facilities. We believe that with PG funding we can continue to create an environment where young people thrive, undertake experiments at international facilities and continuously refine their skills under active mentoring. The PG will enable us to set up a "mini-sandpit" scheme along with small amounts of roof-of-principle beamtime to develop research collaborations of their own.

We take public communication very seriously; and the PG will enable us to continue this work. We have hosted Nuffield students every year for the past 6 years to work on our data. We train staff in public engagement and exploit the visual nature of much of the data we collect to communicate our fascination with science in the hope that young people will take up STEM subjects. Videos from our imaging have been included in many TV shows particularly natural history and palaeontology. During our current PG we exhibited twice at the Royal Society summer event as well as at Big Bang, Southport Airshow and many Science Festivals. In recognition of his contribution to outreach Prof. Withers has been awarded the 2014 Sir Colin Humphrey's Education Award by IOM3.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description X-ray imaging is a vital tool for the non-destructive evaluation of materials for the manufacturing industry most notably in the aerospace and automotive sectors in which high Z materials dominate. We are looking to improve time resolution for capture of dynamic information (4-D tomography) and provide much better data for engineers to exploit in diagnostics and risk analysis. We have started to improve the tomographic contrast of low Z materials which will benefit the healthcare sector, where X-ray imaging occupies a special position as a workhorse not only for aiding diagnosis, but also for providing the spatial and density metrics needed to target the delivery of X-radiation and increasingly proton beams for therapy. The ability for non-destructive analysis which generates a quantitative digital record of objects is a key attraction for both the heritage sector and forensic science.

There has been scope to explore synergies with other techniques, namely synchrotron X-ray imaging. The lab systems have been based around hutch designs similar to the beamlines to enable complete transfer-ability between the synchrotron and lab. X-ray beams. In this way experiments can be planned and their feasibility checked on the lab system, rigs can be tested and developed, and experiments can be transferred from the synchrotron to the lab systems for the long timescale end of the experiment, e.g. studying fatigue or corrosion.

We have been able to produce the highest resolution X-ray images with the shortest scan times. With 10 scanners it is the largest in the world and has attracted 350 researchers from 28 countries, 35 UK universities and 90 companies. Multi-scale imaging: a single CT system can cover only a small range of scales. By connecting together a suite of 5 scanners, users will be able to study phenomena from 500 mm down to 50 nm scales in one facility. Time lapse CT: few systems are optimised for time-lapse experiments. We can cover a wide range of temporal studies from years to minutes - complementing the short term-high frame rate studies at synchrotrons. Correlated physical, chemical and X-ray imaging: the MRF would couple X-ray to electron microscopy imaging, extending to the nano-scales and providing different types of information (structural, crystallographic, chemical etc) on the same region of interest. We are working toward combining an X-ray and electron imaging lab so called correlative tomography. Insight into larger/denser samples: there is UK demand to image large/high density materials and components, especially in engineering and geology/palaeontology. 3-D grain mapping: mapping of grains in 2-D by EBSD has revolutionised the study of materials science; it has just become possible to image grains in 3-D non-destructively using a specially adapted lab CT system, shedding light on a range of inter-granular/textural effects in natural and synthetic materials and providing 3-D crystalline micro-structures for 3-D modelling studies. Access to in-situ rigs: groups are currently limited in what they can see by the environments they can replicate within the scanner. We have a range of in-situ rigs for materials engineering, bio-materials and geology.
Exploitation Route X-ray imaging is a vital tool for the non-destructive evaluation of materials for the manufacturing industry most notably in the aerospace and automotive sectors in which high Z materials dominate. We are looking to improve time resolution for capture of dynamic information (4-D tomography) and provide much better data for engineers to exploit in diagnostics and risk analysis. We have started to improve the tomographic contrast of low Z materials which will benefit the healthcare sector, where X-ray imaging occupies a special position as a workhorse not only for aiding diagnosis but also for providing the spatial and density metrics needed to target the delivery of X-radiation and increasingly proton beams for therapy. The ability for nondestructive analysis which generates a quantitative digital record of organic and inorganic artefacts is a key attraction for both the heritage sector and forensic science.

The Platform grant enabled us to have the key expertise to make the facility available to a very wide range of academic and industrial users from across the UK who have used the unique capabilities of X-ray CT to answer a very wide range of industrial and academic questions. Many of our staff now work for X-ray companies, large sccale facilisties such as Diamond Light Source and Max IV or have lectureship positions all of which are taking the subject forwards.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Electronics,Energy,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology,Transport

URL http://www.mxif.manchester.ac.uk
 
Description The Platform grant has enabled us to offer the capabilities of the Henry Moseley X-ray facilities available to industry. Indeed we have supported over 30 companies who have benefited from the information X-ray imaging can provide. Further staff trained through this project are now working in industry, for large scale facilities, as lecturers or research organisations.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport
Impact Types Economic

 
Description EPSRC: Multiscale and In Situ Laboratory X-ray Computed Tomography National Research Facility
Amount £10,000,000 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2020 
End 07/2025
 
Description Bluedot 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Bluedot is a music and science festival of discovery. Held at Jodrell Bank there are four music stages and a range of tents dedicated to talks on science or science demonstrations and workshops. We contributed by giving a talk and having a presence showing videos of XCT in the Star Pavilion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.discoverthebluedot.com/
 
Description Cheltenham Science Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We were part of the DinoZone and showed how light based technologies were used to examine fossils.Nearly 14,000 visitors came through and many people stopped and said "wow" as they walked in before getting involved.
We made a Lego model of a synchrotron where children (or adults) could insert balls and turn it on so the electron (balls) go round the ring
A game where children rolled ball bearings rolled down a ramp and changed their trajectory using magnets. This simulates how electrons are bent round the ring in a synchrotron. They won a sweet if they can control the ball to hit a target.
We have a video touchscreen kiosk that will run Dristhi Prayog software. This is a "public space ready" interface that allows users to interface with the 3D data generated by X-ray CT and synchrontrons. It has content showing data from fossils and archaeological human remains which have been scanned by X-ray CT
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/science/science-in-the-square/dinozone/
 
Description ESOF Open labs 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Tours of the facility linked up with a local radio interview about the facility and other activities taking place across the university to coincide with ESOF
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/manchester/science/open-labs/26-july/imaging/
 
Description European Science Open Forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Chaired a session entitled 'A window to the future: imaging materials in action' with Dr. Christian Schlepütz, "Beamline Scientist" Swiss Light Source, Paul Scherrer Institut, Switzerland and Professor Gladden, Shell Professor of Chemical Engineering, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, University of Cambridge. To present the current state of the art and induce discussion around future directions and applications for this research area.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/the-university-of-manchester-at-esof-monday-25-july/
 
Description Invited Talk, The 11th International Conference on Magnesium Alloys and their Applications 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited speaker, presented on 'Revealing Zn's Influence on the Solidification
Morphology of Mg Alloys via 4D Synchrotron Tomography'.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.mg2018.org/
 
Description Manchester Museum 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact A series of secondary schools (6) came to the Manchester Museum to undertake a workshop focusing on scientific study of some of the biological specimens in the museum's collection.
We gave a presentation on the application of XCT as an analytical tool and brought three activities one to explain what X-rays are, a second to demonstrate how X-ray computer tomography works and a third for how X-ray diffraction works. The museum staff also found this helpful and enjoyed the activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2015,2016
 
Description Pint of Science 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Pint of Science at Manchester was a series of weekly science talks in one of the local pubs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://pintofscience.co.uk/
 
Description Royal Society Satelitte Exhibition 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This exhibit showed how we've used 4D synchrotron X-ray tomography of magma to better understand volcanic eruptions, and of ice crystals, to work out why some ice cream tastes better! This was a repeat of the summer exhibition held outside London as part of Manchester Science Festival, nearly 13, 000 visitors came over the 5 day exhibition
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://royalsociety.org/science-events-and-lectures/science-exhibition-manchester/
 
Description Royal Society Summer Exhibition 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Entitled "4D Science" this exhibit showed how we've used 4D synchrotron X-ray tomography of magma to better understand volcanic eruptions, and of ice crystals, to work out why some ice cream tastes better. 16,000 visitors came to the week long exhibition.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://royalsociety.org/science-events-and-lectures/summer-science-exhibition/exhibits/4d-science/
 
Description School Visit (Stockport) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Visited Stockport Grammar School to give a short lunchtime presentation to the Science Club about X-ray CT and the facility.
Also brought along an interactive touchscreen display which generated a lot of interest from the students. Sparked discussion about the application of XCT and research and many of the teaching/library staff remembered visiting our 4D Science exhibition at MOSI a few months earlier.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description ScienceX 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A team of five researchers manned a stand in the intu Trafford Centre over the weekend and showed videos of the imaging work we do. They explained how XCT worked and what it was like to work as a researcher.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.mub.eps.manchester.ac.uk/sciencex/
 
Description UK Research and Innovation Launch Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact PDL Participated in UK Research and Innovation (implementing policy)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://blogs.bl.uk/living-knowledge/2018/05/uk-research-and-innovation-launched-at-the-british-libr...
 
Description UKRI Research Infrastructure Roadmap Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact PDL Participated in UKRI Research Infrastructure Roadmap Workshop (implementing policy) on 14 June
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description World Cup trophy 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact To coincide with the 50th anniversary of England winning the World Cup we linked with the National Football Museum in Manchester to scan the Jules Rimet trophy. The story was picked up by local news, MEN, ITV and Wired UK
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/manchester-scientists-solve-trophy-mystery/