Impact area: underpinning tools

Partner: Manchester

The challenge: Imaging and modelling science underpin all the research we carry out. The development of these techniques have benefits that include rapidly identifying and understanding the structure, properties and actions of materials which will be critical to the advancement and success of our projects.

Images: left shows a packed bed of glass beads during flow of fluid through the structure at the timescales indicated. Glass spheres are rendered transparent to follow the fluid front clearly. Image right shows a self-healing sample before crack growth (top left) and steps during crack growth. Filled (initial state only) and empty capsules in yellow and light grey respectively.

Our objective: All ICAM projects use these techniques in one form or another.  In imaging 3-D tomography opens up new materials imaging, visualisation and modelling possibilities down to the micron level and leads to new understanding of, for example, metal pitting and corrosion. Tracking changes over time (4-D imaging) extends these techniques to studying flow through porous materials or evolution of fatigue damage in composites.

Our ‘enabling tools’ imaging project is aimed at:

  • Developing 3-D and 4-D imaging techniques to provide development insights for smart self-healing materials and fluid flow through porous materials such as membranes and rocks.
  • Developing algorithms to enable high speed image acquisition.

Research solution: This ICAM project is aimed at understanding and extending the extent information that can be obtained from 3-D and 4-D imaging, over a range of length scales and materials. It is also developing reconstruction algorithms to enable high speed image acquisition. 

This will allow the acquisition of high resolution image data in real-time and at high speed over a few minutes, as opposed to hours.  Additionally, the ability to differentiate boundaries between materials with similar or low densities will aid in the understanding of fluid flow through membranes and oil bearing rocks. 

Underpinning science - 3-D and 4-D imaging: Non-destructive X-ray and neutron imaging enables observation of the interior of an object and structural characterisation in 3-D. The technique also provides observations on changes over time (4-D) e.g. flow, reaction kinetics or failure mechanisms.

We are using these techniques to develop a view of the evolution of flow or structural changes over time. The information can then be used to aid modelling and simulation of these processes.