Neutron radiography (NR) is an imaging technique, which records the attenuation of the neutron beam by an object on a film, plate or detector, in this respect similar to X-ray imaging, and is well suited to study the interior structure and dynamics of objects. The big advantage of imaging with neutrons is its high sensitivity to water, opposed to X-ray, while (almost) not caring about gas-liquid phase boundaries, opposed to Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Therefore it is well suited to study water content changes in a partly saturated porous medium like soil.
The project shall exploit the rapid advances of neutron radiography, promoted by the development of better image detection devices and more powerful image processing possibilities, to study water flow in soils or similar porous medium. Furthermore, effects of water uptake in the vicinity of plant roots or of the groundwater table shall be considered. The project aims at gathering competence to establish a research group for neutron radiography of soil-plant-groundwater systems in combination with existing X-ray and Magnetic Resonance imaging competences.
The objective is to transfer and jointly develop knowledge in the three following fields:
(1) the design of imaging set-ups from the perspective of neutron radiography requirements,
(2) the know-how to perform two-dimensional as well as three-dimensional neutron radiography (NR tomography) of dynamic systems, and
(3) image analysis, filtering, and visualization of dynamic NR images.
Results of the measurements will be processed with the help of image analysis tools, partly to be developed during the project. Besides visualisation and direct analysis, data sets will be provided that can be fed into existing simulation tools to check conceptual models and determine effective parameters of processes, e.g. related to root water uptake, impact of soil structures on water flow, and water and gas exchange between vadose zone and groundwater.
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