24. May 2012

Even the smallest cracks or material defects not visible by other methods that could affect the safe operation of an airplane or the accuracy of establishing a dental implant in the jaw, for example, can be uncovered by means of a “v|tome|x” microtomographic station by the GE Phoenix company. This unique device will be installed by trained specialists in the Central European Institute of Technology – Brno University of Technology (CEITEC BUT) laboratories in a few weeks time. There is no other device in the Czech Republic capable of measuring samples of such size. The device will also find use in medical diagnostics where it will help in areas such as prolonging the life of an artificial joint.

By means of tomography it is possible to look into things easily without the necessity of physical cuts. That is why tomography has taken a key position in medical diagnostics. Constructors of joint replacements can watch the mutual functions of the implant and bone tissue and, in this way, increase the lifespan of an artificial joint. It is often necessary to image inner structures of objects and materials in other fields, too. This need to resolve much smaller details gave birth to micro- and nanotomography. With this technology, it is possible to make inner cracks and bubbles in casts visible in the field of mechanical engineering – with their removal, the reliability of an engine, for example, can be increased.  It is also possible to image deformations in complex parts moulded from plastic and thus improve the light trail of a reflector on a car. Microtomography also has something to offer in the field of cultural heritage preservation. Archaeologists can investigate the condition or extent of damage of rare objects. Palaeontologists can search for relations of extinct species based on shape similarities of their bones or use them directly to make virtual libraries to access rare discoveries to general public.

The preparation of an X-ray micro- and nanotomography laboratory at the Central European Institute of Technology BUT (CEITEC BUT) has reached its last phase. The laboratory will be focused on the development and applications of a non-invasive 3D imaging technique. The microtomographic station worth 18.5 million crowns will be installed and offered to companies for contract research next month. This brings about the possibility of industry using the only device in the Czech Republic equipped with two sources of X-ray radiation, microfocus for the studies of larger objects with the dimensions of tens of centimetres and nanofocus for the analysis of samples with submicrometre resolution.   

“Top experts are the added value to the efficient microtomograph. Apart from the fact that our scientific workplace will acquire the unique analytical device, it can also rely on other expert colleagues within CEITEC BUT. It is a good precondition for sufficient use of the device’s potential,” says Dr. Jozef Kaiser, Research Group Leader of X-ray micro- and nano tomography from CEITEC BUT.A multi-field approach to individual problems of the partner, quick enough response and erudite research teams with corresponding instrumentation equipment are the guarantee of high-quality work for our partners from companies,” adds Kaiser.

“We are expecting huge interest in the use of this device in CEITEC BUT due to the fact that it is not common equipment in universities and industrial laboratories even abroad,” states Professor Radimír Vrba, the Director of CEITEC BUT. “We expect that it will be the companies for which it would not pay off to invest millions in their own similar devices and own high-quality operating staff, they will be amongst the first to be interested in our services of contract research and development,” adds Vrba.