Progress towards a methodology for high throughput 3D reconstruction of soot nanoparticles via electron tomography

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The aim of this work is to make progress towards the development of 3D reconstruction as a legitimate alternative to traditional 2D characterization of soot. Time constraints are the greatest opposition to its implementation, as currently reconstruction of a single soot particle takes around 5–6 h to complete. As such, the accuracy and detail gains are currently insufficient to challenge 2D characterization of a representative sample (e.g. 200 particles). This work is a consideration of the optimization of the steps included within the computational reconstruction and manual segmentation of soot particles. Our optimal process reduced the time required by over 70% in comparison to a typical procedure, whilst producing models with no appreciable decrease in quality.

Lay description

Morphological characterization is an important initial step in developing appropriate strategies to minimize the problems caused by soot emissions. Due to the highly irregular nature of soot particles 3D characterization techniques would assist in better extracting parameters necessary, to potentially understand the role of soot particles on human health, their greenhouse effect via absorption of visible light, degradation of marine habitats and on the tribological behaviour of engine lubricating oils. Due to the lack of depth perception, the deficiency of 3D character of engine soot is not clear to see in 2D-TEM projections, and only with 3D reconstructions we can truly begin to appreciate, particularly quantitatively, the third dimension of soot structures.

Lay description

This demonstrates the feasibility of electron tomography for 3-D characterization of soot nanoparticles; proposing a new optimized methodology to give measurable 3D soot models that are of practical use to industry by reducing time required by over 70% in comparison to a typical procedure.

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