Researcher Joost Batenburg of CWI has been awarded a Vici grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) for his proposal 'Real-Time 3D Tomography'. With the 1.5 million euro grant, Batenburg can develop his own research line in the next five years. It is one of the largest research grants in the Netherlands.
Over the past decades, tomography has proven itself as a powerful technique for creating 3D images of the interior of objects, allowing to see through surfaces normally non-transparant to the naked eye. It is used in imaging devices such as X-ray scanners, medical CT-scanners, electron microscopes. Key to its success is the use of a mathematical algorithm to compute accurate 3D images from 2D scans, such as X-ray photos.
Tomography is currently a highly static technique. The scanner is typically a large, inflexible system that cannot be moved easily. Moreover, the results of the scan become available only after the scan has been made, thereby hampering direct adjustments to the scanning process, such as zooming into an important region.
With his Vici grant, Batenburg will develop new mathematical algorithms for real-time tomography. His recent work in this direction indicates that by a combination of advanced mathematical and computational techniques, a dramatic reduction in computation time can be realized, resulting in real-time creation of large 3D images during the scanning process. This is currently a dream for experimental tomography scientists (in synchrotrons, advanced X-ray imaging labs, electron microscopy labs), as it allows to interact with the object, zooming into regions of interest, avoiding problems with the scan, and even directly observing the evolution of the object undergoing the scan. Moreover, these techniques will make it possible to have a fully flexible scanner, paving the way for robotic tomography, where scans are made using flexible mobile robots.
The Vici grant is a funding instrument from NWO’s Talent Scheme. It gives senior researchers the opportunity to build up their own research group. NWO awarded a total of 32 Vici grants this year in all scientific disciplines. It is the fifth Vici grant at CWI after Harry Buhrman (2003), Ronald Cramer (2006), Peter Grünwald (2010) and Bert Zwart (2015). Batenburg is also part-time professor at Leiden University and the University of Antwerp.
Image: 3D tomographic reconstruction. Daan Pelt, CWI