X-ray tomography system to investigate granular materials during mechanical loading

Rev Sci Instrum. 2014 Aug;85(8):083708. doi: 10.1063/1.4893555.


We integrate a small and portable medical x-ray device with mechanical testing equipment to enable in situ, non-invasive measurements of a granular material's response to mechanical loading. We employ an orthopedic C-arm as the x-ray source and detector to image samples mounted in the materials tester. We discuss the design of a custom rotation stage, which allows for sample rotation and tomographic reconstruction under applied compressive stress. We then discuss the calibration of the system for 3D computed tomography, as well as the subsequent image reconstruction process. Using this system to reconstruct packings of 3D-printed particles, we resolve packing features with 0.52 mm resolution in a (60 mm)(3) field of view. By analyzing the performance bounds of the system, we demonstrate that the reconstructions exhibit only moderate noise.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Calibration
  • Particulate Matter / chemistry*
  • Tomography, X-Ray / instrumentation*
  • Tomography, X-Ray / methods*
  • Tomography, X-Ray / standards
  • Weight-Bearing


  • Particulate Matter