Washington, September 11 (ANI): Researchers at The University of Nottingham, UK, have created the most advanced 3D X-ray micro Computed Tomography (CT) scanner in the world, which will help scientists from a wide variety of departments across the University literally see through solid materials, including soil.
Known as the 'Nanotom', the machine will make previously difficult and laborious research much easier as it allows researchers to probe inside objects without having to break into them.
The Nanotom will produce high-resolution 3D and slice images of solids with a pixel resolution of up to half micron or 500 nanometres.
It will be based at the School of Biosciences as the centrepiece of research into efforts to understand the microscopic interactions between plant root growth and soil structure.
The first project to use it will examine the sensing ability of roots to grow in the best direction for the health of the plant through the soil.
It aims to provide evidence of how the root reacts and adapts to soil stresses like drought and compaction by adjusting the genetic information in the tips of the root as it grows.
The Nanotom will allow researchers to follow the progress of the root growth and soil structural development for the first time without disturbing the sample of the plant growing in the soil.
The eventual aim of research like this is to contribute to worldwide efforts for food security and sustainable food production by preserving and improving the vital but finite soil resources of the planet.
It will enable scientists to come up with a recipe for the best soil composition and level of compaction as well as informing plant breeding programmes.
Accurate soil structure measurement will be also be essential in changing farming practices to cut CO2 which is released into the atmosphere during traditional ploughing of agricultural soil.
According to Dr Sacha Mooney from the University's Division of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, "This new kit will completely revolutionize our work in trying to understand the key factors that control some of the many functions that soils perform."
"Of course it's not just soils we'll be scanning, I think I am just as excited about the opportunity to look inside newly created environmental building materials, eco-friendly crops developed to improve yield and even chocolate bars for the food industry," Mooney added. (ANI)