Structural materials analysis by 3D computer tomography (3D CT) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM)

3D computer tomography (3D-CT)

Fraunhofer IPM makes use of its excellent technical equipment for tomography against a background of decades of experience in thermal engineering, Peltier cooling, heat pipes, sensor technology and failure analysis of functional materials and components. Our laboratories are well equipped for thermophysical analyses (i.e. measurement of thermal conductivity, heat capacity or phase transitions), measurement of electrical properties or investigation of heat pipes, Peltier modules, etc.

Based on this experience, we are able to realize entire analytical chains that are tailored to the individual questions of our clientele. For example, we can directly investigate how defects detected during structural analysis affect thermophysical and electrical properties. Thanks to the X-ray detector's high dynamics, fluids can be made visible and fluidic processes can be monitored in real time in a component, e.g. in heat exchangers and coolers. X-ray imaging of components is also possible while the device is operated »live« under near-operational conditions such as defined temperature, humidity, gas composition or with cooling water (»in-situ«). If necessary, we manufacture special, sealed measuring cells for this purpose.

For our customers we develop individual solutions for non-destructive analyses in the areas of development, product control and failure analysis. Tomography has proven to be an ideal tool in the development of new manufacturing processes such as 3D printing as the dimension, shape and structure of manufactured components can be compared very quickly with nominal values. Thus, development and production can be quickly adjusted and – if component failure should still occur – the defects can be analyzed quickly and effectively.

Express service

Experience has taught us: Time matters in the search for defects, component faults and in the development of processes. We therefore respond quickly to inquiries and, if required, deliver an analysis result for your parts within a few days. 

Fraunhofer IPM has the latest generation of the fully equipped tomograph v|tome x|m (manufacturer Baker Hughes Digital Solutions) at its disposal

  • 300 kV microfocus tube with high beam power: enables X-ray imaging of components even made of heavy and dense metals such as stainless steel or copper
  • Additional 180 kV nanofocus tube: under appropriate conditions, detail detectability down to a few micrometers or below
  • High-resolution detector with 4000 × 4000 pixels and high dynamic range: enables resolution of fine structures and high contrasts
  • Metrology design: geometric measurements according to VDI 2630 1.3 possible, i.e. traceability to a calibration standard
  • Flexible access for supply lines into the specimen chamber: enables measurement of test objects with connected lines, e.g. for power or cooling water, and thus »in-situ« analysis during operation

Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) / Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDX)


For fine structure surface analysis, we use the scanning electron microscope Hitachi SU-70 with high beam power and imaging performance. This allows the finest details to be examined down to the nm range. The laboratories at Fraunhofer IPM are also equipped with an EDX system of the latest generation (AZtecLive from Oxford Instruments) for elemental analyses or live mappings of the elemental distribution. In our preparation laboratory, we process materials prior to analysis if required, e.g. by sawing, polishing or the mechanical preparation of material cross sections.

Solutions for individual measurement tasks

Are you looking for an individual solution for a special analysis of structures and components? We will work with you to develop the appropriate measurement conditions for your specific requirements.

Equipment | Service

Measurment & Consulting

Determination of thermophysical properties

The characterization of functional materials is part of our daily business. Take advantage of our know-how.


Testing laboratories

Material and structure analysis

We have extensive equipment for the analysis of functional materials and surfaces.

Custom-tailored measuring technology

Material characterization

Thermophysical material properties can be determined very precisely and also adjusted in a targeted manner.