Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have developed a new way of seeing—with X-ray “eyes” no less. Using its novel instrument, the NIST team can clearly glimpse minute voids, tiny cracks and other sometimes indiscernible microstructural details over a three-dimensional expanse in a wide range of materials, including metals, ceramics and biological specimens.
In its current form, the technology—called ultra-small-angle X-ray scattering or USAXS imaging—functions much like a film camera, albeit a highly specialized one. And where a camera needs a flash to create images, USAXS has the ultimate flash—the Advanced Photon Source at the Argonne National Laboratory. Measuring 1,104 meters (nearly 0.7 mile) around, the APS is a new-generation synchrotron. It produces an abundance of extremely uniform high-energy X-rays that make the new imaging technique work.
USAXS itself is an already established research technique, yielding plots of data points that correspond to angles and intensities of X-rays scattered by a specimen. With the new system, graphed curves become high-resolution pictures. And when taken from different perspectives, pictures can be assembled into three-dimensional images.
Images are actually maps of the small fraction of X-rays that—instead of being absorbed or transmitted through the sample—are scattered by electrons in the material.
The above story is based on materials provided by National Institute Of Standards And Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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