Putting tools in the toolbox: Development of a free, open-source toolbox for quantitative image analysis of porous media.

Friday, 19 December 2014
Gabriel Iltis, Thomas Caswell, Eric Dill, Stuart Wilkins and Wah-Keat Lee, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY, United States
X-ray tomographic imaging of porous media has proven to be a valuable tool for investigating and characterizing the physical structure and state of both natural and synthetic porous materials, including glass bead packs, ceramics, soil and rock. Given that most synchrotron facilities have user programs which grant academic researchers access to facilities and x-ray imaging equipment free of charge, a key limitation or hindrance for small research groups interested in conducting x-ray imaging experiments is the financial cost associated with post-experiment data analysis. While the cost of high performance computing hardware continues to decrease, expenses associated with licensing commercial software packages for quantitative image analysis continue to increase, with current prices being as high as $24,000 USD, for a single user license.

As construction of the Nation's newest synchrotron accelerator nears completion, a significant effort is being made here at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), to provide an open-source, experiment-to-publication toolbox that reduces the financial and technical ‘activation energy’ required for performing sophisticated quantitative analysis of multidimensional porous media data sets, collected using cutting-edge x-ray imaging techniques. Implementation focuses on leveraging existing open-source projects and developing additional tools for quantitative analysis. We will present an overview of the software suite that is in development here at BNL including major design decisions, a demonstration of several test cases illustrating currently available quantitative tools for analysis and characterization of multidimensional porous media image data sets and plans for their future development.