By Brian Reinhardt and Benjamin Hall, L4iS (USA)
Lasers for Innovative Solutions, LLC (L4iS) is developing a new class of tomography technology with the aim of allowing material characterization in three dimensions with sub-micron resolution. The method uses a nanosecond, Q-switched, pulsed ultraviolet laser coupled with high-resolution imaging to generate highly detailed specimen models. Using this system, sequential images similar to light-sheet fluorescence microscopy are used to digitally reconstruct the specimen.
Laser ablation tomography (LAT) is ideal for full color visualizations and measurement of structural features in applications like high-throughput phenotyping and biomimicry, materials science, yielding complex CAD models for simulations and rapid prototyping while allowing for easier quantitative 3D analysis.
Avizo 3D software advanced image processing and analysis modules are used in combination with L4IS' LAT scans to get great understanding of data structure, analyze and quantify its components. The visually striking virtual model reconstruction and advanced measurements allow for better insight into the data, leading researcher to faster scientific discovery.
Traditionally, techniques like x-ray and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) have been the primary means of obtaining tomography data, but these methods have distinct disadvantages. Often requiring complex sample preparation, including the use of heavy metal contrast enhancing agents and stains, these techniques are highly sensitive to conditions such as moisture content, density, and composition of the sample to be scanned. With virtually no sample preparation needed, LAT scans™ use an ultraviolet laser to induce material-specific fluorescence. This facilitates deeper levels of analysis through the use of these fluorescent properties to further identify and discriminate material structures not possible by any other means.
Characterization of Sphecius speciosus also referred to as the cicada killer. The specimen was critically point dried and then characterized using the LAT Scan™ system at with 4 μm resolution.
The LAT process uses a high peak-power laser to repeatedly vaporize a thin surface layer of the sample. The emitted light is routed through an optical system for filtering and imaging. The data is processed and reconstructed into a high-resolution model that can be viewed, manipulated, or virtually dissected using software. Depending on the aspects in which a client is interested, 3D processing algorithms are used to extract and quantify relevant data associated with these features. With resolution as fine as 800 nanometers at 18 million voxels per slice, L4iS can provide excellent level of detail while simultaneously capturing the larger context.
Thin section microscopy: Precision laser ablation slices a few hundred nanometers of material with parallel faces, a feat difficult to replicate with standard microtome sectioning.
Fluorescent Analysis: L4iS captures fluorescent material properties in each image allowing higher contrast between materials.
High-throughput phenotyping: L4iS can deliver up to 200 datasets per day, depending on sample parameters.
LAT Scans of Maize roots from a soil core sample. Segmented root network from soil.
L4iS offers LAT ScanTM services to provide high resolution 3D models of material structures..
Amira and Avizo are high-performance 3D software for visualizing, analyzing, and understanding scientific and industrial data coming from all types of sources and modalities.
Images and text are courtesy of L4iS