Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

3D and 4D microscopy - development of new powerful tools in geosciences

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
1.06.01  Natural sciences and mathematics  Geology  Mineralogy and petrology 

Code Science Field
P420  Natural sciences and mathematics  Petrology, mineralogy, geochemistry 

Code Science Field
1.05  Natural Sciences  Earth and related Environmental sciences 
3D and 4D microscopy, microtomography, 3D image analysis, microstructure, porosity, permeability, crack orientation, dinamic modelling
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (18)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  32327  Janko Čretnik  Civil engineering  Technical associate  2016 - 2018  95 
2.  11292  PhD Vilma Ducman  Civil engineering  Researcher  2016 - 2018  510 
3.  24339  PhD Matija Gams  Civil engineering  Researcher  2016 - 2017  211 
4.  15846  PhD Aleš Hladnik  Communications technology  Researcher  2016 - 2018  318 
5.  13607  PhD Adrijan Košir  Geology  Researcher  2016 - 2018  246 
6.  27532  PhD Maja Kreslin  Civil engineering  Researcher  2018  164 
7.  08281  PhD Andraž Legat  Civil engineering  Researcher  2016 - 2018  489 
8.  25599  PhD Alenka Mauko Pranjić  Geology  Head  2016 - 2018  321 
9.  05930  PhD Ana Mladenović  Geology  Researcher  2016 - 2018  822 
10.  19590  PhD Deja Muck  Communications technology  Researcher  2016 - 2018  528 
11.  36451  PhD Primož Oprčkal  Geology  Junior researcher  2016 - 2018  127 
12.  13200  PhD Aljoša Šajna  Civil engineering  Researcher  2016 - 2018  196 
13.  35413  PhD Mateja Štefančič  Civil engineering  Researcher  2017 - 2018  34 
14.  18494  Tomislav Tomše    Technical associate  2016 - 2018 
15.  27508  PhD Janez Turk  Civil engineering  Researcher  2016 - 2018  216 
16.  15900  PhD Marko Vrabec  Geology  Researcher  2016 - 2018  324 
17.  22449  PhD Mirijam Vrabec  Geology  Researcher  2016 - 2018  178 
18.  32263  PhD Vesna Zalar Serjun  Geology  Researcher  2017 - 2018  131 
Organisations (3)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0618  Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts  Ljubljana  5105498000  63,121 
2.  1502  Slovenian National Building and Civil Engineering Institute  Ljubljana  5866324000  10,219 
3.  1555  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Natural Sciences and Engeneering  Ljubljana  1627074  19,936 
Microtomography (microCT) is becoming more and more widely recognized in geological sciences as a powerful tool for the spatial characterization of rock and other geological materials. Together with 3D image analysis and other complementary techniques, it has the characteristics of an innovative and non-destructive 3D microscopical technique. On the other hand its main disadvantages are low availability (only a few geological laboratories are equipped with high resolution tomographs), the relatively high prices of testing connected with the use of an x-ray source, technical limitations connected to the resolution and imaging of certain materials, as well as time-consuming and complex 3D image analysis, necessary for quantification of 3D tomographic data sets. The main goal of the present project is therefore to develop and establish protocols for optimal 3D microscopy including microCT imaging, 3D data analysis and complementary analysis, which would result in a more advanced and standardized method, which would be more easily available and applicable, and less time-consuming so cheaper. We will further develop protocols for 4D microscopy, i.e. dynamic structural processing (microCT imaging with simultaneous in-situ loading of the sample). Established protocols will be following: protocols for 3D pore analysis, data set coupling and multi-scale imaging, 3D mineralogical identification, the spatial imaging of low attenuation phases and geological materials in the presence of high attenuation phases, and dynamic microstructural processing. These protocols will be developed and demonstrated on the basis of studies of real geological samples and problems, such as the porosity of Alveolina-Nummulites limestone, crack formation in the Velenje lignite ore, and the fibre orientation and strength of high performance fibre reinforced concretes. Research will also be performed into possibilities of the use of 3D and 4D microscopy data in conventional geological modelling. The established protocols will thus directly help to solve complex geological and technical problems, and over the long term sustainability of the project impact will be ensured by the direct application of the developed protocols and know how to industry (e.g. the construction industry, primary resource industry, car production industry) and other fields of research (e.g. the development of smart sensors), as well by educating young people such as students of graduate and postgraduate programs in by transferring the latest findings and developments in the field of spatial characterization and image analysis of geological materials.
Significance for science
In addition to achieving research breakthroughs within the scope of the above-mentioned cases from technical petrography, structural geology and sedimentology as well as the application of a new approach using 3D microscopy in the geosciences, the main result of the project will be the establishing of standard protocols and better qualified operators for the 3D microscopy of geological samples. This will make possible easier and faster analyses of new geological samples after the completion of the project, which will increase the possibility of scientific breakthroughs in geosciences and new ways of exploiting the developed knowledge. Additionally, the first case of this kind of a research approach in the Slovenian academic arena (the system for X-ray microtomograpy at ZAG is currently the only such device in Slovenia, and one of just a few in the wider European area) will make possible development above the present state-of-the-art. The project will increase international co-operation through already established networks of individual research partners, and enable greater recognition within the European Research Area. Developed applications will be transferred directly into the economy not only in the field of geosciences, but also into other sectors of industry (e.g. the primary resource industry, the construction industry, the automobile industry). Dissemination of the results is planned within the scope of workshops for industry and publications in expert journals. The scientific impact of the project will be measured by the number of papers presented in scientific publications. It is planned that at least 5 such publications be made in internationally recognized scientific journals, especially in those with higher impact factor.
Significance for the country
Knowledge developed in present project will be directly transfered to regular study program on Faculty of Natural Sciences and Engineering. In this way long term impact of the project is ensured since new graduates will bring knowledge to their future employees. This way, techniques of X-ray microtomography will reach the widest possible spectrum of applications in scientific and applied research institutions as well as in the industry. Direct impact is also training of one young researcher on 3D and 4D microscopy topics at Slovenian National Building and Civil Engineering Institute.  Project will also directly impact industry since developed procedures and protocols and highly trained personnel will be available for different industries not only geosciences also after the project end. In the field of mining industry, direct benefit will have Rudnik premoga Velenje since they will be able to directly use results of microstructural modelling of lignite samples in improvements in design of mine works and in defining of safety protocols, which is currently a major area of multidisciplinary research in coal geology and geotechnology. Interes for results of the project have already express two producers of 3D modelling software. In the past producer FEI (AVIZO software for 3D image visualisation and analysis) have already cooperated with ZAG in order to upgraded their modulus for 3D image analysis on microtomographic samples imaged by ZAG. The software manufacturer Paradigm has expressed interest in collaborating in the proposed project with the testing of their additional products for volume analysis, such as Paradigm VoxelGeo ZAG is also involved in network of infrastructure laboratories under joined initative Raw to recycled materials – advanced characterisation and 3D imaging. This network was formed in the frame of EIT Raw Materials and thus direct transfer of results will be possible to offer research partners as well as different international corporations such as Atlas Copco, Sandvik, Basf, KGHM, Arkema and others, being industrial partners of EIT Raw Materials. Project will also directly impact construction sector in Slovenia, since analyzed results will solve many current issues in production of novel construction materials such as ultra-high performance fibre reinforced concrete, new asphalt composites, new cement mixtures and others. These materials are grouped under Technical petrography group. Interest on project result was also expressed by Hydria AET with whom we have in the past cooperated in order to improve their products by means of microCT. We will also organize workshops on microtomography for industry, so better access of euqipment and knowledge to industry is expected. It is also expected that this will push for development of new product direction and increase export productivity of Slovenian industry which is one of the goals of national strategy on smart specialisation.
Most important scientific results Interim report, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Interim report, final report
Views history