Institute for Automation and Applied Informatics

Patent application and immediate industrial transfer

  • Author:

    Dr. Ulrich Gengenbach

  • Source:

    IAI

  • Date: 21.12.2017
  • Correlative Array Tomography is an important tool for investigation of the 3D-structure of biological specimens or new materials down to the nanometre scale. Sections of the sample with a thickness of only 30 – 200 nanometres are being cut with an ultramicrotome and manually laid down on a substrate in a well-defined order. The sections on substrate are then being imaged with different imaging modalities (light microscope, SEM), segmented by means of image processing and then assembled to yield a 3D-model. For small numbers manual handling of the thin and fragile sections is feasible. Structural elucidation of larger micro or nanostructured volumes such as complete cellular systems or a printed electronic device requires many thousand sections in good quality and precisely defined thickness.
    First steps towards an automated process were taken in cooperation with the group of Prof. Rasmus R. Schröder (BioQuant/CAM; Universität Heidelberg) in the framework of a HEiKA project. An automated process for automatic handling of large numbers of sections has been developed and realised as lab prototype in the PhD-thesis (finished 12.12.2017) of Waldemar Spomer (see movie). This process and device have been filed as patent application. In a technology transfer project, KIT and RMC/Boeckeler, a leading American manufacturer of ultramicrotomes, will develop this system toward product readiness.