Deep insights into the core of structuresNew facility for non-destructive research of materials installed at Aalen University of Applied Sciences

Das neue Röntgenmikroskop ermöglicht Andreas Kopp (links) und Jan Niedermeier aus dem IMFAA-Team Forschung auf dem nächsthöheren Level. (Foto: Julia Rettenmaier)

Th, 11. August 2022

A real heavyweight has moved into the research building at Aalen University: A crane was used to hoist the 3D X-ray microscope, which weighs around 2.7 tons, into the Center for Technology for Sustainability (ZTN). "The system gives us the highest resolution and previously unattainable degrees of freedom in the non-destructive analysis of materials," Jan Niedermeier and Andreas Kopp from Aalen University are pleased to report. With the ZEISS Xradia Versa 610 model, the researchers can now pursue completely new questions across institutes and gain valuable insights into the inner workings of components.

Sustainable energy technologies, resource efficiency, intelligent mobility and digitalization: these are the topics that feed into the scientific issues being worked on intensively in the research building at Aalen University. In the Center for Technology for Sustainability (ZTN), researchers are dedicated to the further development of specific key technologies such as lightweight construction, photonics, production technologies and material sciences.

All of these teams now have access to a freshly installed 3D X-ray microscope for their research activities. "We are very pleased that with the X-ray microscope we have been able to close a gap in the equipment infrastructure not only at ZTN, but also at Aalen University," says Dr. Timo Bernthaler from the management team of the Materials Research Institute (IMFAA). Bernthaler is also an active researcher in the university's SmartPro partnership and was involved in the application along with other SmartPro researchers.

The X-ray microscope (XRM) provides sub-micrometer resolution and will be used in a wide variety of research tasks: For example, in the field of energy storage, it can help to better understand the aging process of batteries in electromobility. The advantage here is that it is possible to look into the innermost structures without having to cut open the battery or the component. The resulting images of the microstructures can then in turn be used to determine the reliability of microelectronic components using artificial intelligence - so-called "machine learning." "In this way, our research ultimately contributes to making products more resource-efficient to manufacture and more energy-efficient," enthuses Jan Niedermeier from the IMFAA team.

SmartPro researchers and partners - more than 60 in total from industry and research - will also be able to benefit from the XRM's many potential applications. The large-scale device, which cost more than one million euros, was financed by the European Union's REACT-EU program as part of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Baden-Württemberg. "We would like to thank the state for funding research at Aalen University and the regionally based companies for supporting us in expanding the equipment infrastructure so that we can jointly develop new issues," says Dr. Gerhard Schneider from the IMFAA management team.

Info SmartPro: In the university's SmartPro cooperation network, a partnership funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) since 2017, more than 60 partners from industry, transfer and research are working to increase energy efficiency and conserve resources. In the three application fields of energy converters, energy storage and lightweight construction, the foundations for future energy-efficient and resource-saving products are being laid in close cooperation with the cross-sectional technologies of additive manufacturing and machine learning.