X-ray methods

Modern X-ray methods can be used to address issues that are very difficult or impossible to solve using conventional NDT methods. Wherever materials with high radiation adsorption have to be radiated, X-ray methods are used at Fraunhofer IKTS. In addition to material-scientific investigations for industry, this also includes non-destructive examinations of archaeological finds, musical instruments or woody plants.

In order to detect defects, to make certain structures visible inside or to obtain further information from the test objects, the scientists use X-ray methods that work with very high radiation energies. This allows volume tests and other investigations, e.g. on surface tensions, to be carried out on samples of a wide range of materials and geometries.

Development of X-ray detectors#

X-ray line detectors are gradually replacing the X-ray films still commonly used in radiography and are indispensable above all for X-ray computed tomography. They are mostly used when continuous goods are to be examined or when the size of the object only permits strip illumination in order to avoid unwanted scattered radiation.

In the conventional detector principle, the incident X-ray photons are first converted into visible light and, in a second step, into electrical signals by means of photodiodes. The L100 X-ray detector line developed by Fraunhofer IKTS eliminates the intermediate step and works directly converting. This significantly increases resolution and speed. In addition, thanks to single photon detection, the X-ray photons can be evaluated with regard to their energy. This enables "dual energy" applications in which materials are distinguished by their composition.

The prototypes currently being tested have a line length of 102.4 mm and achieve a resolution of 100 μm. The setup of two absorber materials enables the detection of X-ray quanta from the energy ranges 30-200 keV and 2-40 keV. This allows the X-ray line to be used for both imaging and diffraction. Due to the minimum counting time of 20 μs, objects can be examined at a speed of up to 50 m/s, depending on the inspection concept.

The developed line detector is built from customer-specific individual circuits (ASIC), so that cost-effective manufacturing and a variety of configurations – in particular also practically any size –  are possible. Together with the CT control and analysis software XVision developed at Fraunhofer IKTS, customized X-ray micro-CT systems can be realized and equipped with intuitive user guidance.


Services offered       

  • Construction of customized X-ray inspection systems and integration into existing production lines
  • Development of CT controls and analysis software
  • Concept studies and feasibility studies
  • Testing services, also for larger quantities


Technical details

  • Line length: 102.4 mm
  • Resolution: 100 μm
  • Energy range: 30 to 200 keV and 2 to 40 keV
  • Test speed: up to 50 m/s


Fields of application

  • Inline quality assurance and material classification for:
    • Food industry and pharmacy
    • Small parts/semi-finished products production
© Fraunhofer IKTS
For rapid non-destructive testing, Fraunhofer IKTS has state-of-the-art X-ray methods at its disposal.
© Fraunhofer IKTS
Detail photo of the active area: the absorber (top left) is connected to the evaluation electronics (bottom right) by wire bonding.

Micro-computed tomography#

© Fraunhofer IKTS
X-ray CT of a single-hand neck clock, made around 1600 (exhibit of the Dresden State Art Collections).

Industrial micro-computed tomography (μCT) is an established analytical technique for technical and scientific applications and is increasingly used in the examination of artistic and cultural goods. It is an ideal technique for visualizing air pockets, cracks, and other material inhomogeneities within an arbitrarily shaped object. Micro-computed tomography enables non-destructive three-dimensional inspection of objects with high spatial resolution.

Fraunhofer IKTS has a micro-CT system that can be adapted to the inspection task according to customer requirements. This allows the examination of very small components such as electronic parts as well as large objects such as art objects or fossils.


Technical details 

  • 225 kV microfocus X-ray tube
  • 2048 x 2048 pixel area detector
  • Real resolution: max. 1 μm
  • Sample size: max. 60 cm (largest dimension)
  • Sample weight: max. 6 kg


Fields of application

  • Material and product development for the electronics industry and medical technology
  • Testing of mass-produced parts
  • Testing of archaeological finds and art objects

High resolution CT laminography#

© Fraunhofer IKTS
Examination on an electronic assembly using high-resolution X-ray laminography.

High resolution computed laminography (HRCL) is a newly developed X-ray tomography method developed by Fraunhofer IKTS, whereby the specimen can be examined with high resolution (up to 2 µm³) and with only one rotation. Extensive sample preparation is no longer necessary. The method makes it possible to examine small areas of large-area and planar circuit carriers in particular with high resolution and non-destructively. Thanks to a modified measurement setup and an optimized reconstruction algorithm compared to micro-CT, the high-resolution examination of printed circuit boards of any size is now no longer a problem. For example, control boards for automotive or power electronics as well as embedded systems can be analyzed non-destructively and without preparation effort.


Technical details

  • 225 kV microfocus X-ray tube
  • 2048 x 2048 pixel area detector
  • Real resolution: max. 900 nm
  • Specimen size: max. 60 cm (largest extension), for testing of partial areas also larger
  • Specimen weight: max. 6 kg


Fields of application

  • Fast visualization of cracks in joints of electronic components on their circuit carriers
  • Inspection of systems embedded in CFRP sheets

X-ray diffraction#

X-ray diffraction is a method used by Fraunhofer IKTS to determine the composition of mixtures of substances. In this process, X-rays are diffracted at ordered structures such as crystals or quasicrystals and the diffraction intensity distribution is measured.

In addition, Fraunhofer IKTS uses X-ray diffraction for the determination of residual stresses by the Sinus2y method. Here, the sample is tilted in a reflex by a certain range y (Psi). To determine the distribution of residual stresses over the specimen, measurements are taken at various points, but at least in the extreme areas (edges, corners and center). Since texture influences the results of many methods, even the Sinus2y method only provides reliable values if the layer under investigation is untextured. Therefore, the pole figures for at least two different reflections are recorded at different points of the object under investigation. The residual stress can then be derived from the peak positions determined.


Services offered

  • Testing services
  • Feasibility studies
  •  Construction of customized test systems


Fields of application

  • Determination of the composition of material mixtures and of residual stresses in material and product development
  • Studies to determine the causes of component defects