Adelaide to showcase first X-ray microscope in Australia
Tuesday, 29 January 2002
A new X-ray microscope that provides 3D images of the internal structure of materials will go on display at a conference in Adelaide next week. It will be the first time the Micro-CT Scanner has been seen in Australia and it is expected to generate widespread interest in scientific and industrial circles.
The $500,000 microscope has been acquired by Adelaide University for use by a range of researchers, both from universities and industry. It can be used for analysing many different types of materials, including electronic micro components, crack propagation in steels, whole small animals and fish, and pore sizes in samples taken from exploration drill holes.
Mr John Terlet, Director of the University's Centre for Electron Microscopy & MicroStructure Analysis, said Adelaide would be the first and only centre in Australia to offer the technology.
"X-ray tomography has been used for many years for medical imaging," he said. "CAT scanners are common in most major hospitals and allow researchers and doctors to visualise in 3D the structure of whole bodies or parts by combining a number of two-dimensional images in a stack. The Micro-CT Scanner, or X-ray microscope, works in a similar manner to medical CT scanners. With a resolution of a few microns it is able to provide 3D images of the microstructure of materials. Samples require virtually no sample preparation because the technology is non-invasive."
University researchers using the powerful Belgian-made instrument are likely to include dentists, plant scientists, mechanical engineers, soils scientists, geologists, anatomical scientists, and zoologists. The University will also make the microscope available to South Australian industries with the potential to benefit from its use. Among these are electronic component manufacturers, defence industries, mining exploration companies, forensic laboratories, and nano manufacturing industries.
"The diamond mining industry in Western Australia is already keen to have access to it," said Mr Terlet. "We expect many other potential users will gain an appreciation of the microscope's capabilities after it goes on display at the 17th Australian Conference on Electron Microscopy at the Adelaide Convention Centre from 4-8 February. This will bring together some of the world's leading figures in microscopy, including Professor Sara Miller, Director of Electron Microscopy Diagnostic Virology Laboratory at Duke University Medical Centre in Durham, North Carolina, USA. Professor Miller is a world expert on the identification of micro-organisms related to health and disease. The recent reminders of the potential dangers and health risks by exposure to organisms such as anthrax, smallpox, mad cow disease, rabies and foot and mouth have highlighted the importance of her work in the rapid identification of viruses using electron microscopic techniques."
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