Self-constructed automated syringe for preparation of micron-sized particulate samples in x-ray microtomography

MethodsX. 2020 Jan 10:7:100757. doi: 10.1016/j.mex.2019.11.030. eCollection 2020.


In X-ray microtomography the sample has to meet special requirements regarding (1) mechanical stability (blurring), (2) geometry (FOV - field of view, rotational symmetry) and (3) composition (high attenuating phases). When analyzing micron-sized particulate material (e.g. powders), the particles in the FOV have to be (4) statistically representative and fixation (embedding matrix) becomes a critical issue due to segregation and agglomeration effects. The authors describe a self-constructed, low-cost automated syringe that allows controlling aspiration speed and suctioning volume. The carrier matrix is a wax structure that is shock frozen within a small polymeric tube. With this, the authors could successfully validate the method to determine particle size distributions (PSD). The described method is used in a related study by Ditscherlein et al. (2019). •Low-cost automated syringe constructed with LEGO-parts and automatized with Arduino-microcontroller.•Particle sample embedded within a shock-frozen wax matrix.•Reproducibility successfully demonstrated by determining particle size distributions.

Keywords: Automated syringe; Micron-sized particle sample preparation for XMT-analysis; Particle characterization; Sample preparation; X-ray microtomography; XMT.