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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/X014614/1
Title: Correlative Analysis of Crystals in 3D
Principal Investigator: Chen, Professor B
Other Investigators:
Gabbott, Professor SE El-Fallah, Dr G Gill, Professor SPA
Bridges, Professor JC Azeem, Dr M Panwisawas, Dr C
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Engineering
Organisation: University of Leicester
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 January 2023 Ends: 31 December 2025 Value (£): 2,501,463
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Characterisation Materials testing & eng.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
18 Jul 2022 EPSRC Strategic Equipment Interview Panel July 2022 - Panel 2 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The performance of any crystalline material depends greatly upon its crystal properties, such as crystallographic orientation. Crystalline materials include metals, alloys and ceramics, all of which are high-value strategically important materials. Materials characterisation is crucial to the understanding of key processes in a range of functional and structural materials that have applications across many industrial sectors. We request funding for a ZEISS Hercules package of CrystalCT and Crossbeam 350 with femtosecond (fs)-laser in correlative configuration, integrated and running on one powerful software platform. This new equipment represents a game changer for materials characterisation; it will enable numerous capabilities, including 3D non-destructive and high throughput crystallographic and microstructural imaging using laboratory-based X-ray source, access to deeply buried regions of interest as well as performing correlative analysis of crystals in 3D on large volumes of materials.

This equipment, a 3D crystallographic imaging system, will bring new capabilities to the Midlands region, becoming the only combination system in the UK capable of capturing isotropic voxel dimensions at sub-micron resolution, and will, for the first time, enable a transformative workflow for both multi-modal and multi-scale characterisation of crystalline materials, at length scale from centimetres to nanometres. The requested equipment has a strong demand at local, regional and national levels due to its unique capabilities for correlative 3D imaging of crystals. By working closely with multi-disciplinary research teams within the University of Leicester, and our regional and national partner organisations, we have identified three Core Areas with competitive regional and national strengths. It is anticipated that the proposed research topics that this equipment will support will be elevated to internationally competitive levels.

Micro-CT (also called micro computed tomography) is a 3D imaging technique that uses X-rays to look inside a material slice by slice. Absorption contrast tomography, the working principle describing how a conventional micro-CT works, measures density differences in a material, such as porosity, inclusions, defects, etc. However, it cannot not reveal the grain microstructure, defined by crystallographic orientations, which is key to almost any metallic materials' properties and performance. The combination of absorption and diffraction unravels a complete picture of grain microstructure which can then be linked to help researchers understand the defect formation mechanisms. In this sense, the stand-alone CrystalCT system is already an exceptional micro-CT. The unique correlative configuration of the CrystalCT and Crossbeam 350 with fs-laser is even more exciting as it enables the 3D grain imaging across the length-scales of centimetres to nanometres.

The equipment will be managed through a committee to oversee strategic issues, primarily focusing on making businesses aware of the research capabilities of this instrument, as well as growing a diverse and inclusive user base. Ultimately, supporting this equipment proposal will allow us to provide significant societal and economic benefit to the UK.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.le.ac.uk