Automatic diameter and orientation distribution determination of fibrous materials in micro x-ray CT imaging data

John Chiverton, Alex Kao, Marta Roldo, Gianluca Tozzi

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Fibrous nano-materials such as electrospun materials have many uses ranging from tissue engineering to biosensors. High-resolution imaging is an important component in the characterisation of these materials. Important parameters required to predict and study the properties of fibre rich materials include diameter and orientation distribution as well as fibre spacing. The orientations and the relative dimensions of the fibres can be measured via specially designed imaging software. Difficulties in this measurement process can arise if fibres are distributed in close proximity to each other in relation to the resolution of the imaging modality. For example, if some automation is required in the measurement process and, particularly, if the automated processes are not designed for situations where the fibres are in close proximity to each other. This work is therefore concerned with the development of automated measurement techniques to provide estimates of the diameters of fibres and also the orientation distribution. The software automatically detects special points in the fibrous materials where fibres can be considered to have some delineation from surrounding fibres. These sparse points are considered to be points at which estimates of the fibres' properties can be quantified. Aligned and randomly distributed electrospun PCL nanofibres were prepared. Imaging of these materials was performed with an X-Ray Computer Tomography (XCT) system with an image voxel size of 0.15x0.15x0.15µm3. Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) images were also obtained. Fibre diameters estimated using images from both modalities using the developed techniques were found to be in agreement. Orientation distribution was summarised with multiscale Entropy and found to be consistent with visual observation across different scales.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-195
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Microscopy
Issue number3
Early online date6 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2018


  • 3D Image Processing
  • XCT
  • Fibres
  • Electrospinning
  • PCL


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