Thermo Scientific HeliScan microCT

HeliScan™ uses advanced helical scanning and iterative reconstruction technology to produce unsurpassed image fidelity on larger volumes. As part of a multi-scale imaging solution, HeliScan™ enables scientists to gain valuable insight from internal structures to explore and validate a wide range of material properties.

The variety of materials that can be easily characterized in this system range from biological specimens to dense metallic, even micro-electronics. The ease of use as well as the high throughput make this system ideal for laboratory groups that need to identify what is within their material (voids, cracks, solutes) without requiring a sacrificial specimen.

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Key Features:


Improved Resolution:​
The HeliScan’s new high-resolution/ low flux upgrade will improve the resolution by about a factor of two – decreasing the size of the smallest voxel achievable from 800nm to 400nm. 

The HeliScan at CEMAS is mainly operated in its high-resolution/low flux mode. When there is sufficient demand for the low-resolution/high flux mode the system can be switched over.  If you have a large and dense sample which can only be scanned using the low-resolution/high flux mode, contact the instrument manager.


Al-Silca sample. Left:Imaged on HeliScan with standard set up at 400nm. Right: Imaged on HeliScan with high-resolution upgrade at 400nm. Images courtesy of ThermoFisher Scientific.


Fast throughput, high-quality analysis:
Helical scanning and a large cone angle combined with proprietary autofocus and drift correction delivers the highest signal-to-noise ratio. 

Multi-Scale Workflow:
This microCT instrument is a valuable component of a multi-scale, multimodal workflow that may progress through higher-resolution imaging with a focused ion beam/scanning electron microscope to atomic-scale analysis in a transmission electron microscope. All of these techniques are available at CEMAS.



X-ray source: 20 – 160kV, power 8W

X-ray detector: 3072 x 3072 pixels, 16 bit, flat panel

Spatial resolution: 800 nm** (400nm ** with high-resolution kit installed)

Sample diameter up to 240 mm

Load capacity: 15 kg

Sample stage


Source – Stage: 400 mm

Source – Detector: 750 mm

Z-range: 195 mm

R-range: 360° continuous

**(2d) Spatial resolution (or 10% MTF resolution)

Resolution is the distance between objects (or cavities) at which they can still be identified as independent from each other in an image.

What type of data does the HelIScan produce?

The projections taken during the scan are reconstructed using either a iterative or FBP reconstruction code (depending the trajectory chosen during scan set up) and produce a greyscale tomogram. The tomogram will be outputted in a a tiff stack and/or a series of netCDF blocks.

2D slices from microCT tomogram. A) Ti64 powder (image courtesy of Dr Sriram Vijayan, Material Science Engineering, OSU). B) Honey bee head (image courtesy of Dr Hongmei Li-Byarlay, Honeybee Research Lab, Central State University). C)Sandstone mounted in a glass NMR tube (image courtesy of Dr Julia M. Sheets, Subsurface Energy Materials Characterization and Analysis Laboratory (SEMCAL), School of Earth Sciences, OSU).

What is next?

Once users have obtained a microCT tomogram of their sample they will most likely want to perform image analysis on their tomogram. This may include filtering, segmentation, quantifying and creating animations. There are many commercial and free image analysis programs available. CEMAS users have access to our VMs that have both MIPAR and Avizo software programs installed on them. Using either (or a combination of both) softwares users can filter, segment, quantify and visualise their data. Please note that the VMs are only available for analysis of images/tomograms acquired at CEMAS.

MIPAR is available to all OSU students/staff/faculty at no charge.

Volume rendering of a mouse heart. With the pulmonary valve highlighted green. The material labeled brown is the resin the heart was embedded in.

Take advantage of these capabilities and become a CEMAS User

Get Started Today

Interested in the HeliScan?

New users: Click here to become a new user.

Current users: Click here to schedule time.

Questions? Contact us at

Instrument Manager

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Carley Goodwin
Become a CEMAS User

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