The Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change

is a research museum of the Leibniz Association

µ-Ct lab

What is µ-computed tomography (µ-CT)?

Computed tomography is an imaging technique based on X-rays. The sample is rotated and X-ray images from various angles are taken. Based on these images, a computer can calculate a stack of virtual sections showing the inner anatomy of the sample. CT is a widespread technique in modern medicine and is increasingly also used in zoological basic research. The samples scanned in zoological research are much smaller than those in medical scanners and thus require a higher resolution of up to one µm or less (µ-CT). In contrast to histology, where the sample is cut into very thin slices, CT scanning does not destroy the sample, which is especially important for museum material.


Which equipment is available at ZFMK?   

The ZFMK has two fully shielded computed tomographers for different sample sizes and resolutions.

The Skyscan 1171 has an X-ray source with an energy between 40 and 130 kV. Sample with a diameter of up to 140 mm and a length of up to 200 mm can be studied.

The Skyscan 1272 is for smaller samples up to 27 mm diameter and can reach resolutions up to 0.5 µm. Its X-ray source ranges between 20 and 100 kV.

A lab for sample preparation and staining is available.


What is the µ-CT used for at ZFMK?

Researchers at ZFMK use µ-CT for various different applications including the study of inner anatomy, the virtual measurement of samples, the description of new species or as a base for functional and biomechanic approaches such as finite element analyses or geometric morphometrics. They are also used as a base for 3-dimensional reconstructions.


Can external researchers use the CT scanners of the ZFMK?

On principle, this is possible within the framework of a collaboration of a Synthesys stay.

Contact person

Head of Morphology Laboratory
+49 228 9122-235
+49 228 9122-212
Benjamin.Wipfler [at]