X-ray micro-computed tomography

X-ray Computed Tomography (CT) is a non-destructive technique to visualize interior features within solid objects, and for obtaining digital information on their 3-D geometries and properties. The elements of X-ray tomography are the X-ray source (i.e. X-ray tube), a series of detectors that measure X-ray intensity attenuation along multiple beam paths (i.e. a CCD camera), and a rotational geometry (i.e. a rotational stage) with respect to the object being imaged.


Typical applications include:


  • Measuring 3D size and spatial distribution of crystals, clasts, vesicles, etc.
  • Non-destructive volumetric study of rare specimens (e.g. fossils, meteorites), but also routine study of internal structures of fossil and recent biological specimens
  • 3D measurement of fluid flow fields, including porosity, micro porosity, and fracture extent and roughness
  • 3D fabric determination (foliations, shape preferred orientations, network properties,
    fracture networks)
  • Detection and examination of high-density economic trace phases
  • Imaging of rock samples to optimize sample preparation for geochemical characterization (e.g., locating crystal central sections, spiral axes, solid &
    fluid inclusions)


The above list just gives a non-exhaustive overview of the potentials using this technique. CT data have been applied to virtually all field in geosciences, but also in material sciences, food science, biology, and many other disciplines.



Since early 2020 the tomography laboratory is equipped with a new machine: a SKYSCAN 1273 - the latest 3D X-ray benchtop μCT. It has replaced our faithful SKYSCAN 1173.


The new instrument offers enhanced features: a higher spatial resolution, shorter acquisition times and scanning of large and heavy samples. High quality images can be acquired using a high-energy X-ray source (130 kV, 40 W) and a large format, sensitive 6-megapixel flat-panel detector. This allows to generate 3D images with a voxel size smaller than 3 µm (under optimal conditions). Samples can be of up to 500 mm long and 300 mm in diameter and up to 20 kg in weight.

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X-ray micro-computed tomography lab

Lab: 1113
Tel: +41 21 692 43 51

Lab responsible:

Prof. Pierre Lanari

Contact person:

Dr. Benita Putlitz
telefono-01.jpg+41 21 692 44 43 | mail-01.jpg