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Cornell's X-ray Imaging Lab Director Uses Kickstarter Campaign to "Democratize" Advanced 3D Imaging

ITHACA, N.Y., Aug. 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Mark Riccio, director of Cornell University's multi-scale 3D computed tomography (CT) imaging facility, is using the online crowd-funding platform Kickstarter to bring non-invasive 3D, 4D and even 5D imaging to researchers and would-be superheros everywhere: "for FREE." Riccio's campaign, which just launched, asks "What would YOU do if you had Superman's X-ray vision?" The campaign exposes the possibility to researchers and explorers everywhere, from elementary through high school students, academic institutions, start-up businesses and industry interests.

Riccio has divided users into 2 categories: N-Peeps are not-for-profit people/organizations and will always receive their imaging for free. F-Peeps are for profit organizations engaged in exciting research projects. "For FREE" is asterisked in the campaign to note that for-profit organizations will be able to image at an hourly rate that is lower than standard imaging facilities charge. Riccio intends a 50/50 balance of N-Peeps and F-Peeps. In addition to removing the barrier to entry for N-Peeps, another goal of the project is to create an online digital library of 3D datasets gained through the advanced imaging. This would significantly add to the body of scientific knowledge shared openly on the Internet (except where the information may be proprietary and then will not be imaged for free).

The campaign seeks to raise funds to set up an independent imaging lab, acquire a state-of-the-art 3D X-ray imaging system from Carl Zeiss X-ray Microscopy, and time on other CT instruments to accommodate an even broader range of samples. The ZEISS Xradia 520 Versa is the most advanced and versatile submicron imaging system on the market today, enabling researchers to visualize and quantify inside their samples without destroying them. This is critically important for samples that would be altered if cut open (e.g., a raw egg), rare and archival materials such as fossils or museum artifacts, and is also important for repeated imaging of the same sample under various conditions or over time (i.e., 4D and 5D imaging).

The X-ray CT lab Riccio directs at Cornell has imaged a wide variety of objects including a great white shark's head, fruits/flowers, coral, bearded dragons, flies, the insides of electronics, and advanced industrial materials. It has imaged specimens from the American Museum of Natural History, Academy of Natural Sciences, Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology, the Smithsonian, and others. This type of imaging can inform a wide variety of knowledge, from the current state of toxicity in our oceans and fields to designing better, lighter, yet stronger materials for airplane bodies, spaceships, or buildings, and studying the biological structures that lead to new biomaterials and medicines.

The campaign, rich in details about 3D X-ray imaging, can be found at


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