The Advanced Photon Source
a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility

Imaging (XSD-IMG)

If brain imaging could be compared to Google Earth, neuroscientists would already have a pretty good “satellite view’ of the brain, and a great “street view” of neuron details. But navigating how the brain computes is arguably where the action is, and neuroscience's “navigational map view” has been a bit meager. Now, a research team led by Eva Dyer, a Georgia Tech computational neuroscientist and electrical engineer, has imaged brains at that map-like or "meso" scale using the brightest high-energy x-ray beams in the country at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory. The imaging scale gives an overview of the intercellular landscape of the brain at a level relevant to small neural networks, which are at the core of the brain's ability to compute.
The mating display of the male bird of paradise owes its optical extravagance to a background so black it is the envy of telescope and solar panel engineers, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Communications. Their velvety black plumage is so dark it gives the illusion that adjacent patterns of color glow brilliantly, an effect much appreciated by mate-hunting females. Optical measurements showed that these feather patches absorb up to 99.95% of directly incident light, a number comparable to manmade ultra-black materials. The microscopic structures of the wing feathers even resemble those designed by engineers to create ultra-black materials used to facilitate light absorption in solar panels. Researchers utilized various experimental tools, including the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, to delve into the structural absorption properties of the feathers, which may find non-avian applications in new or improved biomimetic materials.
The race to produce safe, powerful and affordable solid-state lithium batteries is accelerating and recent announcements about game-changing research using a solid non-flammable ceramic electrolyte known as garnet has some in the race calling it revolutionary. Researchers utilized high-brightness x-rays from the U.S. Department of Energy’s) Advanced Photon Source to study failure points in a garnet-type material that shows great promise for all-solid-state battery applications due to its high lithium-ion conductivity and its compatibility with Li metal.
To shed light on the mysterious, exact process by which cement transforms from a fresh paste into a solid, researchers utilized high-brightness x-rays with imaging methods at the Advanced Photon Source.
Using microscale analysis of bird wings at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source, a team of researchers has discovered new insights into the mechanisms that give morphing wings their flight advantage.
Research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source characterized cuttlefish shell in three dimensions to see what happened to the shell's microstructure when it was compressed with an eye toward better ceramic foams for packaging, transportation, and infrastructure.
In Situ Imaging of Methane Hydrate Formation and Dissolution: Research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source works to better understand the formation and dissociation of methane gas hydrates, which are important as a resource of clean-burning hydrocarbon fuel.
A university/industry/national laboratory collaboration of researchers worked to examine operating limits and failure mechanisms in a family of solid-state batteries based on thiophosphate materials using research carried out at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source.
Scientists using the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Photon Source show that hydrated starch granules mixed into conventional hydrogels can create tissue-like materials that could someday be used to create soft robots and biomedical implants with functionality beyond that of natural systems.
2-BM-A,B, 7-ID-B,C,D
X-ray Tomography Reveals How Solid-State Batteries Charge and Discharge: Detailed three-dimensional information from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source could help improve the reliability and performance of solid-state lithium batteries, which use solid materials to replace the flammable liquid electrolytes in existing lithium-ion batteries.
Additive manufacturing, also known as three-dimensional (3-D) printing, has long been used to create prototypes and is increasingly being used to build commercial items, from sneakers to aircraft parts. Most 3-D printing with metal works by scanning a laser across a thin layer of metallic powder, then melting to join with the layer below until a structure has been built up. Many such parts, however, suffer from mechanical weaknesses caused by defects in the layers, such as rough surfaces and large numbers of pores. It has been difficult to measure exactly how the defects form, in part because the process happens so quickly. Now scientists have developed a technique using the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source to capture defects as they form.
Researchers have now elucidated in detail the laser-induced spattering behavior in the common titanium alloy Ti-6Al-4V using the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source. Combining image analysis with numerical simulations, they were, for the first time, able to connect the visible spattering above the metal surface with the previously-unseen keyhole dynamics below and inside the metal that cause the phenomenon.
The methods demonstrated in this work could be perfected and extended not just in laser powder bed fusion printing but across other additive manufacturing techniques and other fabrication technologies.
A new study by researchers using the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source assessed the effect of gravity on insects and shows that insects also experience an active response called “functional valving” or “functional compartmentalization.”
Researchers used the unique capabilities of the Advanced Photon Source to detail for the first time how copper, magnesium, or zinc change the nanoscale structure of aluminum, and to explore how we might control the metallurgy to design even better aluminum alloys with even more desirable properties.
Putting a Shine on Metal 3-D Printing: The promise of metal 3-D printing has yet to yield consistently high-quality products at high volumes. Data collected at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source yielded criteria that reduces defects in the finished product.
32-ID-B,C, 35-ID-B,C,D,E
Uncovering New Insights about the Brains of Individuals with Schizophrenia: An international team of scientists is attempting to use new techniques including high-brightness x-rays at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source to better understand how diseases like schizophrenia develop over time.
Nature Uses Springs and Latches to Overcome the Limitations of Muscles: High-speed synchrotron x-ray imaging at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source was used to analyze the dynamics of the click beetle’s unique spring and latch system, offering insights into how these systems work that may be used for the design of insect-inspired robots.
Defining the Laser Speed Limit for 3-D Printing with Metal: Metal objects manufactured by 3-D printing often contain tiny holes that can weaken the final product. Researchers using the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source detailed how such pores are created and defined the best combination of laser energy and scanning speed to avoid causing the defects.
Mouse Brain Imaged from the Microscopic to the Macroscopic Level: Researchers at the University of Chicago and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Laboratory imaged an entire mouse brain across five orders of magnitude of resolution, allowing scientists to better connect existing imaging approaches and uncover new details about the structure of the brain.
Lightning in the Water: Ultrafast X-Ray Provides New Look at Plasma Discharge Breakdown in Water: Lightning is fast, but how fast? A U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory collaboration recently captured the first sub-nanosecond image of electrical discharge in water.
Nanoparticles Improve 3-D Laser-Printed Parts: The process laser powder bed fusion can produce complex 3-D metallic parts that are often difficult or impractical to produce using conventional manufacturing techniques. Research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source constitutes a major step towards improving laser powder bed fusion -based 3-D printing and its widespread adoption by industry.
New System to Visualize 3-D Metal Printing Process May Tap Its Unrealized Potential: The additive manufacturing technique electron beam-powder bed fusion (EB-PBF) has grown rapidly in recent years. Research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source demonstrated that sub-surface properties of parts manufactured with this printing process can be readily visualized, a powerful tool for studying in real time the dynamics and mechanisms of the EB-PBF process
1-ID-B,C,E, 32-ID-B,C
These experiments at the U.S. Department of Energy’s APS, and the resulting data, promise to improve the utility and accuracy of flame-sampling analyses and models, one of the most important tools of combustion chemistry.
Researchers Develop a Cobalt-Free Cathode for Lithium-Ion Batteries: Researchers using three U.S. Department of Energy x-ray light source user facilities, including the Advanced Photon Source, have devised a way to make lithium-ion battery cathodes without using cobalt, a mineral plagued by price volatility and geopolitical complications.
7-BM-B, 11-ID-C


Imaging Group

The XSD Imaging Group operates, maintains, and advances capabilities for three beamlines that service five end stations (2-BM-A/B, 7-BM-B and 32-ID-B/C). The upstream station 2-BM-A is dedicated to high-speed tomography and includes a white/pink-beam fast tomography system while the downstream station includes a monochromatic/pink-beam, high-resolution tomography system. The fast tomography system provides sub-second tomography and is the ideal tool for three-dimensional (3-D) in situ dynamic studies in materials science and biology. The 2-BM-B tomography system provides a reliable and easy-to-use system that is able to determine the distribution of physical quantities (density, porosity distribution, crack size, etc.) in 3-D on a large population of samples. This system is routinely used for material science, battery research and biological studies. The 7-BM-B station is dedicated to hard x-ray tomography with filtered BM white beam, high-speed white beam imaging, and focused beam radiography and fluorescence spectroscopy. The beamline caters to the multiphase flow and combustion communities and is uniquely equipped for these communities. The beamline features a high-capacity compressed air supply (200 scfm at 110 psig pressure) with an air receiver to accommodate blowdown operations. This air supply is critical for measurements of shear-atomization for the gas turbine and high-speed flow communities. The beamline is also capable of 30 x 3 mm (H x V) wide-field with filtered white beam, which complements the smaller, higher-flux beam provided by 32-ID. The 32-ID beamline services two end stations hosting the high-speed x-ray imaging/diffraction and transmission x-ray microscopy programs. The high-speed x-ray imaging/diffraction program requires and uses the unique single-pulse brightness and timing structure of the APS for single-shot, 100-ps exposures ideally combined with megahertz frame rates. The wide energy range allows for the study of fast dynamic processes in soft as well as hard materials. The transmission x-ray microscopy program is equipped with the highest performance sub-10-nm spatial resolution hard x-ray transmission x-ray microscopy in the world, and it is optimized for in situ microscopy/tomography of energy-research-related materials.

The Imaging Group instruments are among the highest data-volume producers at the APS and are at the leading edge of development of standardized data formats and automated data handling through an extensive worldwide network including other synchrotron facilities and the DOE, Argonne, and University of Chicago advanced computational resources.

2-BM-A,B (XSD) High-Speed Tomography
The 2-BM-A,B beamline hosts a dedicated parallel-beam micro tomography program. Major design improvements to meet user demand and to provide superior analytical imaging performance and in situ capabilities include: (1) designed and implemented a new standardized control system (TomoScan) that supports step & fly & interlaced scans and streaming data collection for tomography. This systems now runs at 2-BM, 7-BM, and 32-ID allowing for fast propagation of new features and improvements with lower maintenance effort; (2) designed and implemented a new real-time tomography reconstruction code (TomoStream) to support streaming data collection; (3) designed and implemented a new command-line-interface (tomopy-cli) to better support our tomography reconstruction software (tomopy); (4) installed and tested a new Adimec camera for fast data acquisition; (5) installed a new gas pump system for in-situ experiments with high-pressure conditions;
7-BM-B (XSD) Complex Fluid Dynamics
A major improvement to 7-BM from 2017-2020 has been the addition of a high-capacity compressed air supply (200 scfm at 110 psig pressure), including an air receiver tank to permit blowdown operations for higher flowrates at shorter runtimes, funded through 7-BM users and internal investments. This capability is unique at the APS and has been instrumental for a number of experiments at 7-BM, including high-speed imaging and radiography of a canonical shear atomizer (DOI: 10.1016/j.ijmultiphaseflow.2020.103219), high-speed imaging of gas turbine combustor flow (DOI: 10.2514/6.2020-0522), and operation of a small-scale supersonic wind tunnel (DOI: 10.1615/AtomizSpr.2020034448). A further improvement to the beamline has been the commissioning of a multilayer mirror housed in 7-BM-B. This mirror provides considerable energy flexibility to the beamline, allowing for x-ray fluorescence measurements of elements through the lanthanides. This has been used by users to study multiphase flow structure in internal flows in aluminum nozzles (DOI: 10.2514/6.2020-0355).
32-ID-B (XSD) High-speed X-ray Imaging/Diffraction

Ultrafast white-beam diffraction capability has been developed, serving as a complementary tool to the high-speed imaging technique. By integrating an intensifier with a multi-frame high-speed camera, high quality diffraction data can be recorded with MHz frame rates. The ultrafast diffraction instrument aims to provide users the unique capability to study the non-repeatable material behaviors by measuring the strain evolution and phase transformation occurring in a single dynamic event. It is particularly suitable for probing those ultrafast dynamics that cannot be captured by the conventional pump-probe techniques. An in-house developed software is distributed to users to aid the simulation and analysis of the white-beam diffraction patterns.

For the high-speed x-ray imaging and diffraction program at 32-ID-B, the major improvements include:

(1) Installation of in-vacuum high-heat-load fast shutter in the A-station, with full remote control of the settings and operation. This will save crucial space in the B station and allows for additional equipment safety interlocks when needed. (2) Installation of an exhaust system in the B-hutch, thus allowing new experiments requiring the use of toxic and flammable gases. (3) Development of a multi-frame, high-speed diffraction detection system based on a new intensified relay optics optimized for use with our Photron camera. This system can take unlimited number of frames, at up to 300 kHz, without (MCP) depletion issues. (4) Integration of an ultrafast framing camera (Shimadzu HPV-X2, in collaboration with a group from LANL) in our imaging and diffraction system, allowing for a frame rate up to the storage ring frequency of 6.5 MHz. (5) integration of a cooled compound refraction lenses (CRLs) system to focus the undulator beam: a step closer to getting a functional ultrafast SAXS system. (6) We started a new phase in the Additive Manufacturing setup improvements. We are integrating high speed IR and Visible light imaging as part of the scanner head itself. This will allow for unprecedented top view real time imaging of the sample. We also started a few collaborations to integrate standard calibration tools of the experimental conditions (laser beam profile and power, gas flow, ...). The in-situ laser additive manufacturing (AM) process replicator, shown in the Figure adjacent, has been developed at 32-ID-B,C for high-speed synchrotron X-ray imaging and diffraction studies (DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-03761-2, DOI: 10.1107/S1600577518009554). Many highly time-transient processes and phenomena involved in metal AM have been quantitatively characterised with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolutions, and the mechanisms responsible for different types of defects in AM materials were identified. Whilst other groups around the world have built similar process replicators the instrument at 32-ID-B,C is unique in that it is routinely available for user experiments. As such this instrument has been highly successful resulting in the publication of 32 journal articles between 2017 and 2020.

32-ID-C (XSD) Transmission X-ray Microscopy

32-ID-C hosts an in-house designed and built full-field transmission x-ray microscope with sub‑10 nm spatial resolution for 2-D and 3-D imaging of several micrometer-thick materials (32-ID-C).For the transmission x-ray microscopy program at 32-ID-C, the major improvements include: 

1) Various R&D activities (see 32-ID staff R&D section) improved the nano tomography instrument to achieve a sub-10 nm world record resolution (DOI: 10.1002/adma.202008653);  2) implemented a new standardized control system (TomoScan) that supports step & fly & interlaced scan and streaming data collection for tomography.  3) Added a granite air bearing based sample positioning system, a miniature programmable heat shielded furnace up to 1200 °C with in-situ scanning capability. Implemented a slip ring connectivity to allow continuous 360° rotation and passing signals to and from a rotating sample that allows in-situ imaging of battery cells during charge and discharge cycle.  4) Add thermal acoustic enclosure of the sample stack and optical elements.  5) Added remotely controlled He gas fill of the TXM optics enclosure that allows reduced He consumption.  6) Installed multiple web cameras and various software packages for remote operation.  7) Added a new user-friendly interface and additional functionality for controlling all TXM Optics.  8) Integrated ORS Dragonfly package for 3D volume rendering of reconstructed tomographic data. 

As such this instrument has been highly successful resulting in the publication of 67 journal articles in 2017-2020.

Data Analysis and Image Processing Software
Analysis of tomographic datasets is becoming progressively more challenging due to the increasing data acquisition rates that new technologies in X-ray sources and detectors enable. At the Imaging Group we developed a collaborative framework, tomoPy for the analysis of synchrotron tomographic data.TomoPy is a Python/C++ based framework, open-source, platform and data format independent, has multiprocessing capability and it is used routinely to process data from the 2-BM microCT and the 32-ID nanoCT systems. TomoPy includes direct Fourier and nonlinear reconstruction methods for incomplete tomographic dataset. These methods are used when is required to reduce dose and/or increase scanning speeds.​ All software tools supported by the Imaging group can be found on xray-imaging and tomography.