Award-winning xxl computed tomography

Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize 2018 for X-ray analysis in a new dimension

© Fraunhofer IIS/Kurt Fuchs
Dr. Michael Böhnel, Nils Reims and Michael Salamon (from left to right) received the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize 2018 for the development of XXL computed tomography.

Our researchers have developed a computed tomography (CT) system that analyzes very large objects, such as freight containers, by applying X-rays and generates high-resolution, three-dimensional images. For a long time, due to the limited power of X-ray tube assemblies, CT was restricted to smaller objects that were easy to penetrate by X-rays. Michael Salamon, Nils Reims and Dr. Michael Böhnel managed to overcome these restrictions. They were awarded the 2018 Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize for the work they carried out at our Development Center for X-ray Technology on the subject of XXL computed tomography. This made it the sixth time in a row our institute has won the prize.

CT with X-rays plays a major role in industrial product development. The objects are rotated on a heavy-duty turntable. A detector and an X-ray source are scanning the object synchronously in vertical movements line by line. Through the rotation of the turntable, the sensor acquires images of the object from many angles, creating the basis for a 3D representation.

Before now, however, such CT scanning – particularly in the high-energy range – was restricted to smaller, simple objects due to a lack of suitable reconstruction and corrective algorithms and sensors. Objects had to be laboriously dismantled before their structure and inner workings could be analyzed. Thanks to non-destructive X-ray testing, it is now possible to analyze in detail the structure and materials of previously unscannable objects.

For the first time, objects with a diameter of 3.20 meters and a height of 5 meters can be analyzed by X-rays – and a special technique that records a large object in several sections permits the scanning of even larger objects. This makes our apparatus one of the largest CT systems in the world at present. Uses for XXL CT include analyzing electric cars after a crash test and inspecting freight containers. Meanwhile, the results achieved by the system have garnered worldwide attention and recognition in the domains of product development and quality assurance and also in the digitalization of historical artifacts.

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