Superscanner Sees Through Solids

Photo via flickr by ashe-villain

From soils and sediments, to chunks of pavement, archaeological remains and chocolate bars—the Nanotom, the most advanced 3D X-ray micro Computed Tomography (CT) scanner in the world, will help scientists at The University of Nottingham literally see through solids. The machine will make previously difficult and laborious research much easier as it allows researchers to probe inside objects without having to break into them.

Part of a new project in the School of Biosciences to scan soil samples for research into soil-plant interactions, the Nanotom by GE Sensing and Inspection Technology is a very powerful tool that allows us to see the internal structure of an object that might be otherwise hidden from view.

The first project of the Nanotom will be to examine the sensing ability of roots to grow in the best direction for the health of the plant through the soil. It aims to provide evidence of how the root reacts and adapts to soil stresses like drought and compaction by adjusting the genetic information in the tips of the root as it grows. The Nanotom will allow researchers to follow the progress of the root growth and soil structural development for the first time without disturbing the sample of the plant growing in the soil.

The eventual aim of research like this is to contribute to worldwide efforts for food security and sustainable food production by preserving and improving the vital but finite soil resources of the planet. It will enable scientists to come up with a recipe for the best soil composition and level of compaction, as well as informing plant breeding programs. Accurate soil structure measurement will be also be essential in changing farming practices to cut CO2 which is released into the atmosphere during traditional ploughing of agricultural soil.

via Science Daily

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