Tunable X-ray dark-field imaging for sub-resolution feature size quantification in porous media

Sci Rep. 2021 Sep 16;11(1):18446. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-97915-y.


X-ray computed micro-tomography typically involves a trade-off between sample size and resolution, complicating the study at a micrometer scale of representative volumes of materials with broad feature size distributions (e.g. natural stones). X-ray dark-field tomography exploits scattering to probe sub-resolution features, promising to overcome this trade-off. In this work, we present a quantification method for sub-resolution feature sizes using dark-field tomograms obtained by tuning the autocorrelation length of a Talbot grating interferometer. Alumina particles with different nominal pore sizes (50 nm and 150 nm) were mixed and imaged at the TOMCAT beamline of the SLS synchrotron (PSI) at eighteen correlation lengths, covering the pore size range. The different particles cannot be distinguished by traditional absorption µCT due to their very similar density and the pores being unresolved at typical image resolutions. Nevertheless, by exploiting the scattering behavior of the samples, the proposed analysis method allowed to quantify the nominal pore sizes of individual particles. The robustness of this quantification was proven by reproducing the experiment with solid samples of alumina, and alumina particles that were kept separated. Our findings demonstrate the possibility to calibrate dark-field image analysis to quantify sub-resolution feature sizes, allowing multi-scale analyses of heterogeneous materials without subsampling.

PMID:34531486 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-021-97915-y


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