X-Ray Tomography and Multi-scale Material Characterization Research Facility

The x-ray tomography and multi-scale material characterization facility at the University of Toronto provides users with a unique combination of equipment for imaging internal structure of samples under a combination of environmental and loading conditions. The facility houses a Phoenix v|tome x|ray micro-Computer Tomography (CT), a Phoenix nano|tome x|ray nano-CT, a PMI mercury intrusion porosimeter, the ERDμ-Q and ERDμ-T custom-made x-ray-transparent testing vessels, a Nanovea integrated micro- nano- indenter and scratcher, and an ATOS II 3D surface scanner. The facility is also located in close proximity to the University of Toronto’s concrete material lab, providing the users with an easy access to a scanning electron microscope, a petrographic microscope, an x-ray diffraction system, a micro-x-ray fluorescence apparatus, and a dynamic vapor absorption balance. To the applicants’ best knowledge, this combination of equipment at a single location makes the x-ray tomography and multi-scale material characterization facility at the University of Toronto highly unique in Canada, and among a very few in the world, capable of characterizing the mechanical properties of materials, their porosity, and imaging changes in their internal structure while being tested.



Phoenix v|tome|x micro-CT


Phoenix v|tome|x micro-CT is a versatile high-resolution system for 2D X-ray and 2D computed tomography, equipped with an open directional high-power microfocus X-ray tube. The Phoenix v|tome|x is capable of generating images with voxel size down to 5 microns and a maximum 3D scanning sample size up to 260mm x 420mm (diameter x height) and 10 kilograms. 6-axes (x, y, z, rotation, tilt, and detector shift) metal precision manipulator provide accurate and stable sample positioning that gives reproducible precision 2D and 3D imaging.


Published content with equipment:

B.S.A. Tatone, N. Tisato, G. Grasselli, 2015. Characterization of Rock Discontinuity Morphology during Shearing using X-ray micro-CT.

Marina Freire-Gormaly, 2013. The Pore Structure of Indiana Limestone and Pink Dolomite for the Modelling of Carbon Dioxide in Geologic Carbonate Rock Formations. Masters of Applied Science, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto

Bryan S.A. Tatone, Giovanni Grasselli, 2014. Characterization of the effect of normal load on the discontinuity morphology in direct shear specimens using X-ray micro-CT.

Lu, H., Peterson K., Chernoloz, O. “Measurement of entrained air-void parameters in Portland cement concrete using micro X-ray computed tomography” International Journal of Pavement Engineering, p. 1-13, April 16, 2016.

Lu H., Peterson K. "A step-wise segmentation method for micro x-ray computed tomography of lightweight concrete" Proceedings of the 36th International Conference on Cement Microscopy, International Cement Microscopy Association, Milan, Italy, April 13-17, 2014.

Lu H., Peterson K. “Measurement of air-void parameters of concrete using x-ray CT” Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Concrete Pavements, Québec, July 8-12, 2012.

Qi Zhao, Nicola Tisato, Giovanni Grasselli, 2016. 4D observation of the formation of rock fractures during rotary shear. GeoConvention 2016.

Nicola Tisato, Qi Zhao, Giovanni Grasselli, 2016. Experimental Rock Physics under micro-CT. SEG International Exposition and 87th Annual Meeting.

ERDμ-T (left) ERDμ-Q (right)

ERDμ-T (left) ERDμ-Q (right)

ERDμ-T inside μCT

ERDμ-T inside μCT

ERDμ-Q and ERDμ-T

Used in the measurement of seismic wave attenuation, the X-Ray transparent ERDμ-Q vessel is used in conjunction with a micro-CT machine for continuous imaging. The vessel is able to apply confining pressures up to 30 MPa and pore pressures up to 20 MPa with varying fluids for a 12 x 36 mm cylindrical sample. The vessel applies a sinusoidal variation of the vertical stress, and with an axial load cell and a cantilever system quantifies a complex Young’s modulus of the specimen to derive the seismic attenuation for a given material.

Similar to the ERDμ-Q, the ERDμ-T vessel can be used to observe rotary shear effects on a slipping surface with a micro-CT imaging machine for continuous imaging during rotary shear deformation. The rate of rotary shear varies from 0.8 to 48mm/s. The ERDμ-T vessel is also able to generate confining pressures up to 30 MPa, for a sample size of 12 x 36 mm. Being able to image the 4D progression of slipping mechanics and the slip surface characteristics, the ERDμ-T provides new capabilities to understand gauge layers on rock friction during shear mechanisms.

Published content with equipment:

Nicola Tisato , Beatriz Quintal , Samuel Chapman , Claudio Madonna , Shankar Subramaniyan , Marcel Frehner , Erik H. Saenger , and Giovanni Grasselli (2014). ”Seismic attenuation in partially saturated rocks: Recent advances and future directions.” The Leading Edge, 33(6), 640–642, 644–646. doi: 10.1190/tle33060640.1

Nicola Tisato, Qi Zhao, Anton Biryukov and Giovanni Grasselli (2015) “Experimental Rock Deformation under μ-CT: two new apparatuses” GeoConvention 2015, Calgary, Canada.

Nanovea Material Tester

Nanovea Material Tester

Nanovea Micro- and Nano-Indenter and Scratcher

The Nanovea Micro- and Nano- Material testing modules gauge material properties through indentation and scratch testing on varying scales. Micro and Nano indentation modules can assess material hardness, elastic modulus, fracture toughness and yield strength. The microindenter module are used with sphereconical and Vickers tips while the nanoindentation module are available in the Berkovich tip. In addition, a scratch tester module can assess cohesive and adhesive failure of materials and adhesive strength.

Published content with equipment:

Mahabadi, O. K., N. X. Randall, Z. Zong, and G. Grasselli (2012), A novel approach for micro-scale characterization and modeling of geomaterials incorporating actual material heterogeneity, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L01303, doi:10.1029/2011GL050411.

Omid K. Mahabadi, “Investigating the influence of micro-scale heterogeneity and microstructure on the failure and mechanical behaviour of geomaterials” Doctoral thesis. University of Toronto, 2012. http://hdl.handle.net/1807/32789



ATOS triple scan

ATOS II 3D Surface Scanner

ATOS uses advance measuring and projection techniques to produce high quality data and precision accuracy for full-object dimensional analysis. It can measure shiny surfaces and complex component with pocket and/or fine edges. 3 high quality optical cameras capable of 16 million points per scan (PPS) work independently for maximum data collection and minimum number of scan, thereby reducing overall measurement time. Narrow band blue light technology improves the scanning of dark or coloured surfaces, also enables precise measurements to be carried out independently of environmental lighting conditions, thereby reduces heat development. Interchangeable measuring volumes and various configurations allow for project versatility.

Published content with equipment:

Bryan S.A. Tatone, 2009. Quantitative Characterization of Natural Rock discontinuity Roughness In-situ and in the Laboratory. Master of Applied Science, Graduate Department of Civil Engineering, University of Toronto

Bryan S.A. Tatone, Giovanni Grasselli, 2012. An Investigation of Discontinuity Roughness Scale Dependency Using High-Resolution Surface Measurements.