Tomography is derived from the greek tómos (tomos; a cut) and γράφειν (graphein; write), so describes a technique using imaging by sectioning. Despite being terribly difficult to section an object into slices a few 10 nanometer thick, it's really harmful for the organism or object. There are better ways to do that without destroying the specimen.

X-ray microtomography is a technique which allows to obtain geometrical information about a wide range of materials and composites in three dimensions. It is ideally suited for non-destructively imaging structures. This 3D imaging gives us a great understanding of the 3D structure of these materials. Combined with powerful image processing techniques, the data can be interpreted to reveal the 3D morphology of different phases present in the system.

X-ray microtomography is applied in various scientific fields like biology, medicine, paleontology or material science to mention a few. The result is always a 3-dimensional representation. Composite objects, for example an insect embedded in opaque amber, require substantial additonal efforts to segment the 3-D object into its individual components like for example the muscles and bones of an insect. Properly identifying, coloring and labeling the compartments creates a 3-dimensional model perfectly suited for further exploration like classification, evolutionary comparison or even 3-D prints for demonstration or education.

Particularly the detailed 3-D models require substantial efforts, but are not commonly preserved or available for re-use. The main goal of this Science3D tomography database is the preservation and documentation of the 3-D models and the underlying data and methods. The database hopefully will permit to discover and re-use those data and models, and thereby give the scientists all the well deserved credits.


Read more about the applications of synchrotron x-ray microtomography in biology ...