Featured Instrumentation: Nikon micro-CT Scanner

Laboratory and Instrument Background

Understanding the complex interplay between form, function, and the environment is a central challenge in the earth sciences, life sciences, and engineering.  The Computed Tomography core at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering meets the accelerating need for high-resolution imagery in many STEM disciplines by capturing the intricate and evolving properties of physical and biological objects.  The Nikon XTH225ST facilitates surficial, compositional, and cross-sectional analysis for diverse applications focused on nanoparticles, engineered composites, hard and soft biological tissues, and entire micro- and macro-organisms.  We serve a diverse consortium of educators and researchers based in the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina, western North Carolina, and southwestern Virginia.  Major users of the facility include biologists, paleontologists, biological anthropologists, materials scientists, and engineers with interests in one or more of the following areas:

  • The Past and Present of Biological Phenotypes – Quantifying shape and compositional properties of structures that reveal phylogeny, micro- and macroevolutionary trends, and form-function relations of ancient and modern organisms
  • The Dynamics of Individual-level Trait Variation – Scaled ability to obtain phenotypic data at individual- and population-levels for detailed evolutionary, ecological, and environmental health research
  • The Future of 3D Imagery in Nanoscience – Enabling new advances in nanomaterials characterization and nanoparticle optimization for emerging material, life science, and toxicology applications

Instrument Specifications

Micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) is an X- ray-based technology that allows objects to be imaged in three dimensions (3D) and at very high resolution (micron scale). The Computed Tomography core houses a Nikon XT H 225 ST system with multiple transmission targets useful for a range of applications. System specifications include:

  • 225 kV reflection target with 225 W target power and 3μm focal spot size 
  • 180 kV transmission target with 20 W target power and 1μm focal spot size
  • Rotating transmisison 225 kV target with 450 W continuous target power (10 μm spot size < 30 W, 160 μm at 450 W)
  • Fast 10-second target rotation under vacuum
  • Helical scan capability for tall samples
  • 5-axis fully programmable sample manipulator
  • Varex XRD1620CF amorphous silicon digital flat panel detector
  • Nikon Metrology Inspect-X Software
  • Two reconstruction workstations with VGSTUDIO MAX 3.5 Software


Acquisition of the Nikon XTH225ST was funded by National Science Foundation Award DBI 2117299 and the University of North Carolina Greensboro (cost share).


Publications and presentations resulting from work done in whole or in part at the JSNN facilities should explicitly acknowledge NSF through the NNCI program. The suggested acknowledgement may read: “This work was performed in whole/part at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, a member of the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI), which is supported by the National Science Foundation Grant ECCS-2025462.

STEPS FOR Becoming a CT USER as a member of JSIRT

STEP 1:  Contact Allison Weavil, JSIRT Program Manager, at aweavil@ncat.edu or ajweavil@uncg.edu to express your interest.  She will provide you with the appropriate user agreement and code of conduct.

STEP 2:  Complete and return the user agreement and code of conduct to Allison Weavil.  She will then create a Facility Online Manager (FOM) account for you and provide you with log-in details.

STEP 3:  Use your FOM account to request General Safety Training, Hazardous Waste Training, and X-Ray Safety Training through our Environmental Health and Safety Director, Mahdi Fahim.

STEP 4:  Use your FOM account to request instrument-specific training on the Nikon X-Ray Computed Tomography (CT) and the Computer Workstation for Nikon CT through the resource manager, Dr. Olubunmi Ayodele.

STEP 5: Use your FOM account to reserve time on the Nikon X-Ray Computed Tomography (CT) and the Computer Workstation for Nikon CT.