Pleasanton, CA, United States
Pleasanton, CA, United States

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Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1000.00K | Year: 2013

Many important technology challenges today such as the capacity and life time of batteries require new characterization techniques to understand and improve performance. In the STTR Phase II project, novel x-ray microscope techniques and software are developed to be able to image samples in three dimensions and determine chemical composition and function on a microscopic level. As known from ubiquitous medical applications, x-rays are able to penetrate and generate images of objects that are opaque to our vision. They can visualize the inside of objects in three dimensions without disturbing or destroying the objectcritical for medical applications. The same advantages hold true at the microscopic scale, well beyond our ability to see things with the naked eye or even a high-powered optical microscope. X-ray microscopes are able to produce images of, for example, microscopic areas inside a battery to directly visualize the chemical processes going on during charging and discharging. Up to now, these were only grey-scale images showing structuremuch like black-and-white TV in the early days. High-powered x-ray sources and new technology developed at National Laboratories now has demonstrated that it is possible to not only show structure, but also put a color that corresponds to the chemical composition or even the chemical state of elements in these 3-D images. In Phase I of the project, it has been demonstrated that it is feasible to develop a robust, commercial solution to bring this color x-ray microscopy to a commercial solution. In Phase II of the project, the demonstrated capabilities will be packaged into a commercial solution that will be available to researchers at Universities, National Laboratories and Industrial Institutions. A new spectroscopic imaging mode with unprecedented sensitivity will be integrated into this solution to offer the capability to for example detect trace contaminants in soil samples and identify how they associate spatially with soil constituents. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The developed product is expected to have high impact in many current focus-areas of research. In particular, in the development and optimization of energy storage and conversion devices (batteries, fuel cells, etc.), water purification (membranes), and catalytic reactions to name only a few. The unique insight x-ray microscopes deliver in terms of understanding the structure, hierarchical organization and elemental/chemical interactions enables the design of targeted experimentation with an understanding of the detailed nano-scale mechanisms.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2012

The project responds to technical topic 9(a): Technology to support BES user facilities: Synchrotron Radiation Facilities. Dr. Michael Feser, the principal investigator from Xradia, and Dr. Piero Pianetta, from SLAC, will work together to develop optimized hardware and controls tested on the SLAC Xradia nanoXCT- S100 microscope and sold for future and existing TXM systems by Xradia Inc. Stanford Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC) developed an x-ray microscopy facility, based on an Xradia Inc. Transmission X-ray Microscope (TXM), used by a growing community for research in the areas of energy (battery, fuel cell and catalysis R & amp;D), biomedical (bone and dental) and environmental remediation. Great strides have been made in energy research by extending the capabilities of the Xradia TXM to include energy scanning allowing in-situ 3-D imaging of the chemical states of battery and fuel cell electrodes and to watch catalytic reactions in real time. This was made possible by a SLAC developed open source software tool (TXM Wizard) that allows text scripts to be manually inputted into the TXM for special data acquisition modes (2D mosaic acquisition, 3D mosaic tomography, XANES spectroscopic tomography) and then be used for data analysis. In this project, Xradia Inc. and SLAC are partnering to develop these new spectroscopic capabilities into a commercial grade solution through: 1) development of an integrated, fully automated command and data interface between the TXM-Wizard and the Xradia control software. This will significantly increase the productivity of the TXM and allow non-experts, including industry users, to routinely access the advanced imaging modes; 2) optimize the TXM control system for the data rates made possible by advanced synchrotron sources to enable quick imaging for improved in-situ, real time studies of energy materials; and 3) incorporate a fully integrated scanning fluorescence mode into the TXM with an analysis area below 1 micrometer an ppm sensitivity. This will allow correlations between the structural/ chemical information obtained on majority elements within a sample in the transmission imaging mode of the TXM and trace elements which can only be observed using x-ray fluorescence. The new capabilities will greatly enhance not only SLACs ability to answer national energy needs and deliver on the DOE mission but also that of the other DOE hard x-ray user facilities developing x-ray microscopy facilities. The developed technology will be commercialized by Xradia Inc. through bundling with new TXM systems and upgrades to existing TXM systems.


Shearing P.R.,Imperial College London | Gelb J.,Xradia Inc. | Brandon N.P.,Imperial College London
Journal of the European Ceramic Society | Year: 2010

High-resolution tomography techniques have facilitated an improved understanding of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) electrode microstructures.The use of X-ray nano computerised tomography (nano-CT) imposes some geometrical constraints on the sample under investigation; in this paper, we present the development of an advanced preparation technique to optimise sample geometries for X-ray nano-CT, utilizing a focused ion beam (FIB) system to shape the sample according to the X-ray field of view at the required magnification.The technique has been successfully applied to a Ni-YSZ electrode material: X-ray nano-CT has been conducted at varying length scales and is shown to provide good agreement; comparison of results from X-ray and more conventional FIB tomography is also demonstrated to be favourable.Tomographic reconstructions of SOFC electrodes with volumes spanning two orders of magnitude are presented. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.98K | Year: 2013

How do the biofilms of soil microbes affect the transport of accidental radioactive contaminants? How are domain interfaces in low-cost organic photovoltaic materials organized? How do lightweight polymer-based matrix materials fail under strain? X-ray microscopes provide unique capabilities to address these questions, since they have mesoscale spatial resolution and the penetrating power to image materials with real-life thicknesses. One can therefore study soil microbe communities with a thickness equal to that of multiple overlying bacteria; or organic photovoltaics as cast on electrodes and capped with antireflective, anti-oxidative layers. However, organic materials can suffer shrinkage under x-ray irradiation, and hydrated organics such as those in soil microbial communities show severe changes due to radiolytical reactions at the water/organic interface. For these reasons, electron microscopy studies on organic materials are best carried out under cryogenic conditions where radiolysis, mass loss, and shrinkage of organics are minimized. Inspired by this, Xradia has developed the worlds only commercial cryogenic x-ray microscope which provides the same degree of radiation damage resistance as has shown to be essential in electron microscopy. We propose to develop an essential complementary tool for Xradias cryogenic x-ray microscopes: a Cryogenic Correlative Confocal Light Microscope (C3LM). This instrument will allow one to calibrate the new views of materials that x-ray microscopes provide with a view more familiar to most customers and scientific users: that of light microscopy. Because cryogenic sample conditions only halt secondary radiation damage effects (shrinkage; mass loss; bubbling in hydrated specimens) as long as the specimen remains cold, one must carry out light microscopy investigations with a cold sample and one must have the ability to carry out light microscopy after x-ray microscopy when one has cracking at non-pre-determined positions, or after x-ray fluorescence has been used to identify the region in a biofilm where plutonium has been sequestered. The microscope must be confocal for 3D imaging of samples with the thickness that x-ray microscopes can study, for delivering high light concentration to buried photovoltaic interfaces, and for visualizing the distribution of fluorescently-tagged molecules. The C3LM will join two highly complementary, but so far disconnected microscopy techniques together to provide a novel and unified platform for true correlative studies of materials important to the DoE.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.98K | Year: 2013

X-Ray microscopy offers rich internal information of objects under study due to the highly penetrative nature of x-rays. Significant improvements in laboratory x-ray sources, synchrotrons and detector technologies in the past few years have pushed the frontiers of spatial and time resolution enabling time-lapse imaging of structures in the micron scale. Xradia, a US based small business founded in 2000 that has been on the forefront of developing laboratory and synchrotron based 3D x-ray imaging systems, proposes to develop and commercialize thin, Eu doped Lu2O3 scintillators. These scintillators will have excellent stopping power and light yield to address the stringent requirements of next generation of detectors (utilizing high-density scintillators coupled to visible light objectives and CCD cameras) for high-speed, sub-micron x- ray imaging for important applications in the fields of energy generation and storage, semiconductors, security, and many other areas. Fast, high-resolution microscopy can potentially help us answer questions about optimizing the high-speed fuel injection process to improve fuel efficiency and the reduction of pollutants. It can help us understand the time evolution of structural damage to polygranular graphite under irradiation in nuclear reactors. It may also provide insights into foam growth and cell wall stabilization in metallic foams that have many interesting applications in, for example, automotive industry due to their light weight, high strength and stiffness helping improving fuel efficiency, reducing use of metals to improve cost effectiveness and enabling more efficient recycling that reduces environmental damage. Xradia will collaborate with Prof. Sarins pioneering research group at Boston University to optimize the process for the fabrication of thin film scintillation screens using a Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) technique based on magnetron sputtering. The PVD process is advantageious since it is scalable and offers a viable, cost effective, commercial solutions for the production of defect free, high quality scintillators with high yield. One commercialization pathway important to DoE facilities will be the development of scintillation screens, or completely integrated x-ray detector systems targeted for synchrotron and other OEM applications and another will be through Xradias VersaXRM and UltraXRM 3D CT systems. The research product has a straightforward commercialization pathway and, as envisioned, will be the critical component of future x-ray microscopes marketed by Xradia, bringing the benefits to market almost immediately.


Grant
Agency: National Science Foundation | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2013

This Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) Phase I project aims at developing the technology for a correlative x-ray imaging and analytical microscope that is able to produce 3-dimensional images with sub-micrometer resolution of samples and subsequently probe points or areas of this volume selectively for elemental (chemical) information. While commercial solutions (x-ray micro-tomography) already exist to obtain the high resolution 3-D images, these images only show a grey-scale mass density representation of the sample. No information about which compounds and elements the sample is made out of is available. The research focuses on demonstrating the ability to add an x-ray fluorescence capability to the x-ray imaging to unambiguously identify the elemental makeup with very high ultimate sensitivity (parts per million) with a focus on correlating exactly the elemental measurement with the location in the 3-D x-ray image of the sample. There is a growing need for this complementary capability both in the academic research area and in industrial use for targeted applications. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is to enable the development of more energy efficient and environmentally friendly extraction and processing techniques for the natural resource sector. The first set of customers, directly contributing to the research by providing relevant samples and helping in defining the ultimate system requirements and specifications, come from the mining R & D and industrial market segment. These customers have adopted high-resolution x-ray imaging very rapidly in the past few years, realizing the inherent advantage of imaging ore samples at various stages during the process of extracting and purifying the valuables. While this capability is already helping to develop better, more efficient extraction processes, an analytical capability to get elemental and chemical information is becoming essential for continued progress. Obvious benefits from the availability of the new technology will be energy savings in the extraction processes by increasing efficiency and better use of available resources by not allowing valuables to enter the waste stream. As an indirect consequence, this leads long term to lower commodity prices and a general higher living standard. But the relevance of the research extends much further into areas of life science, material science and all areas requiring imaging and analytical capabilities.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2013

This Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) Phase I project aims at developing the technology for a correlative x-ray imaging and analytical microscope that is able to produce 3-dimensional images with sub-micrometer resolution of samples and subsequently probe points or areas of this volume selectively for elemental (chemical) information. While commercial solutions (x-ray micro-tomography) already exist to obtain the high resolution 3-D images, these images only show a grey-scale mass density representation of the sample. No information about which compounds and elements the sample is made out of is available. The research focuses on demonstrating the ability to add an x-ray fluorescence capability to the x-ray imaging to unambiguously identify the elemental makeup with very high ultimate sensitivity (parts per million) with a focus on correlating exactly the elemental measurement with the location in the 3-D x-ray image of the sample. There is a growing need for this complementary capability both in the academic research area and in industrial use for targeted applications.


The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is to enable the development of more energy efficient and environmentally friendly extraction and processing techniques for the natural resource sector. The first set of customers, directly contributing to the research by providing relevant samples and helping in defining the ultimate system requirements and specifications, come from the mining R&D and industrial market segment. These customers have adopted high-resolution x-ray imaging very rapidly in the past few years, realizing the inherent advantage of imaging ore samples at various stages during the process of extracting and purifying the valuables. While this capability is already helping to develop better, more efficient extraction processes, an analytical capability to get elemental and chemical information is becoming essential for continued progress. Obvious benefits from the availability of the new technology will be energy savings in the extraction processes by increasing efficiency and better use of available resources by not allowing valuables to enter the waste stream. As an indirect consequence, this leads long term to lower commodity prices and a general higher living standard. But the relevance of the research extends much further into areas of life science, material science and all areas requiring imaging and analytical capabilities.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Defense Microelectronics Activity | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.99K | Year: 2012

Nondestructive 3D imaging of the interconnect structure of microelectronics with x-rays has been demonstrated on an Xradia microscope at the synchrotron. The same scanning speed can be obtained in a non-synchrotron optimized x-ray microscope (OXM) by taking advantage of recent advancement in x-ray source and x-ray optics technology to be developed in the proposed project. The OXM will allow nondestructive 3D imaging IC devices of an area of 1mm2 in 40hrs at 100nm resolution for evaluation and reverse engineering. The substantial throughput gain of the OXM will be achieved mainly by: a new type of x-ray source (liquid metal jet) offering significantly higher brightness and an optimal x-ray spectrum for imaging IC devices; a recently demonstrated new atomic layer deposition fabrication technology to make an x-ray zone plate objective with significantly higher numerical aperture, efficiency, and more than 3X larger field of view; a new scintillator materials and a new innovative reconstruction and scanning concepts. The proposing company has a track record of successfully developing the most advanced x-ray microscopes in the world and is well suited to develop the proposed OXM to meet the criteria set in the SBIR proposal call.


A multi energy, such as dual-energy (DE), x-ray imaging system data acquisition and image reconstruction system and method enables optimizing the image contrast of a sample. Using the DE x-ray imaging system and its associated user interface applications, an operator performs a low energy (LE) and high energy (HE) x-ray scan of the same volume of interest of the sample. The system creates a low-energy reconstructed tomographic volume data set from the set of low-energy projections and a high-energy tomographic volume data set from the set of high-energy projections. This enables the operator to control the image contrast of selected slices, and apply the information associated with optimizing the contrast of the selected slice to all slices in the low-energy and high-energy tomographic data sets. This creates a combined volume data set from the LE and HE volume data sets with optimized image contrast throughout.


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