NSF grant supports high-end imaging instrument development



CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University was awarded an $815,000 “major research instrumentation” grant through the National Science Foundation, part of a $1.2 million package, to develop a high-end, 4D imaging system and establish an Advanced Imaging Facility.

The instrument will provide unique opportunities for conducting high-resolution and high-fidelity three-dimensional imaging of otherwise opaque objects. It can “look inside” objects and “fly through” materials in three-dimensional space, so researchers can study form, character and function at the micron-scale of a variety of materials. There may be applications in environmental, mechanical and civil engineering, as well as geoscience, wood science, zoology, anthropology and agricultural sciences.

“It will be a one-of-a-kind development, and has the capacity to follow processes in time as they take place inside the object of interest,” said Dorthe Wildenschild, a professor of environmental engineering and the grant’s principal investigator. “Among the projects that will be supported by the instrument is research to optimize the trapping of carbon dioxide in subsurface rocks as a climate change mitigation measure.”

The device is expected to have a major impact on research activities in the engineering, earth sciences and natural sciences fields, through studies of eruptive mechanisms of volcanoes, soil mechanics to improve mitigation strategies against landslides, hydraulic collapse of soils, and improved groundwater management and remediation. 

With $600,000 awarded this year and the remainder in year two, the grant will also support the establishment of an Advanced Imaging Facility, which will be managed as a shared-use facility for users throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Additional funding will be sought to extend the technology to an image visualization module for a free-choice learning museum exhibit at Oregon State’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Ore., where visitors can select an object to render in 3D and “fly through.”


College of Engineering

About the OSU College of Engineering: The OSU College of Engineering is among the nation's largest and most productive engineering programs. Since 1999, the college has more than tripled its research expenditures to $37.2 million by emphasizing highly collaborative research that solves global problems. It is a leader in signature research areas, including precision health, clean energy, resilient infrastructure and advanced manufacturing; and targeted strategic areas, including robotics, materials research and clean water.