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Cornell University

X-ray nano-CT

nano-CT scanner

Our nano-CT Xradia / Zeiss XRM-520 Versa is unique among micro-CT devices, combining both a very higher resolution (150nm and 50 microns) and a set of proprietary interchangeable optics that accommodate specimens as large as 30cm in diameter.

With this instrument, we have scanned plant, insect, and vertebrate animal specimens, metals, fabrics, and engineered materials, archaeological artifacts, fossils, and stone.

An ideal sample, which will give the highest quality image with the shortest scan time, is:

  • About the size of the desired field of view

  • Able to fit into a cylinder (no large protrusions such as branches etc. that may crash into the detector)
  • Stable and unmoving for the duration of the scan.

Live animals cannot be imaged in the nano-CT. For living animals, we recommend our Bruker Skyscan 1276 micro-CT.

The resolution of the Xradia is in a continuous range between about 0.8um to 40 um/pixel. Higher or lower resolution is possible depending on specimen properties.

We will send you data that is approximately 1000x1000x1000 pixels in volume, so the field of view is directly proportional to the resolution. For example, a resolution of 10um will scan a volume of about 1 cm3, while a resolution of 1um will scan a volume of about 1mm3. We can perform multiple scans to stitch together data upon request.

To get your samples scanned, follow our step-by-step instructions

Grant acknowledgement

Imaging data was acquired through the Cornell Institute of Biotechnology's Imaging Facility, with NIH 1S10OD012287 funding for the Zeiss-Xradia Versa 520 X-ray microscope.

Estimates of typical scan times

We charge by scanning time. Scanning time depends on the material, the contrast needed, and the resolution required. The estimates of typical scan times below are only indicative and may change with your particular experiment. They assume sample diameters roughly equal to the field of view. Thicker or highly-scattering specimens may take longer.

  • 15-40 microns/pixel: 1-4 hours

  • 7-15 microns/pixel: 1-3 hours
  • 5-7 microns/pixel: 3-6 hours
  • 2-4 microns/pixel: 2-6 hours
  • 1-2 microns/pixel: 8-12 hours
  • 0.5-1-micron: 4-10 hours
  • <0.5 micron: 9-20 hours

Work is typically billed at the end of any month during which work has been performed.

Service pricing

X-ray nano-CT
DescriptionInternal price (Cornell and Cornell affiliates)External price
Nano-CT Xradia/Zeiss XRM-520 Versa (Academic user) $110/specimen + $110 per hour $180/specimen + $180/hour
Nano-CT Xradia/Zeiss XRM-520 Versa (Commercial user) N/A $275/specimen + $275/hour


Imaging Facility