Myoanatomy of the velvet worm leg revealed by laboratory-based nanofocus X-ray source tomography

Research Highlight

New imaging technique gets safely to the heart of the matter

© up close with nature/Moment Open/Getty

© up close with nature/Moment Open/Getty

A new lab-based computed tomography (CT) technique enables scientists to produce high-resolution images of the surface and interior of samples without using a particle accelerator. The non-destructive technique will be useful for studying rare samples or other materials that might be damaged by extensive preparation. 

A team led by researchers at the Technical University of Munich developed an X-ray source that produces a highly focused beam without using X-ray optics. They combined this with a low-noise, single-photon detector to create the new imaging device, called nano-CT.

With nano-CT, the interior and exterior of samples can be scanned to produce 3D data at a resolution of 100 nanometres. While existing techniques achieve a similar resolution, they require more sample preparation and can only image the surface or the interior of a sample, not both. Nano-CT images of the legs of velvet worms revealed unknown muscular features, demonstrating the technique’s value.


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  1. PNAS 114, 12378-12383 (2017). doi: 10.1073/pnas.1710742114
Institutions Share
Technical University of Munich (TUM), Germany 0.72
University of Kassel, Germany 0.17
Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), Brazil 0.03
Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht - Centre for Materials and Coastal Research (HZG), Germany 0.03
Friedrich Schiller University Jena (FSU), Germany 0.03
TUM University Hospital Klinikum rechts der Isar (MRI), Germany 0.02