4D-CT Technique Delivers Thousand-Fold Increase in Imaging Speed

Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI) and Associate Professor Wataru Yashiro of the Institute of Multidisciplinary Research for Advanced Materials, Tohoku University’s (IMRAM) has announced that it has achieved a thousand-fold increase in the speed of 4D-CT (4-Dimensional Computed Tomography) imaging due to collaborative research that brings together industry and academia.

The 4D-CT technique involved in the research was originally developed by SRI as part of ADVANCED 4D NANO DESIGN, a proprietary New Materials Development Technology that the company first unveiled in 2015. The culmination of joint research between SRI that possesses extensive knowledge on rubber and Associate Professor Wataru Yashiro who possesses the world’s fastest1 CT imaging technology2, this breakthrough now makes it possible to observe rubber failure as it occurs during actual tire usage at varying speeds3.

Since first unveiling ADVANCED 4D NANO DESIGN in 2015, SRI has actively utilized the core technology available at the SPring-8*4 synchrotron radiation research facility to carry out new materials development, taking full advantage of 4D-CT imaging with the aim of improving rubber wear performance. However, until now, it took several seconds to capture a single 3D image using the existing 4D-CT technique. In order to enhance the precision of imagery there was a pressing need to increase the speed of imaging.

SRI and Tohoku University initiated the joint research with the aim of developing the base technology to realize ‘High-Speed 4D-CT Imaging.’ Now, as a result of this research project it has succeeded in increasing the speed of imaging by approximately a thousand-fold, meaning that a 3D image can now be captured in around 1/100 of a second. This advancement allows for continuous, high-speed observation of rubber failure phenomena in three dimensions and under conditions that better approximate the state of tire rubber during actual wear.

Schematic of High-Speed 4D-CT Imaging System & Resulting 3D Image of Rubber Failure in Progress

SRI plans to utilize the technology, not only to accelerate the development of new tire materials to provide superior wear resistance, greater environmental friendliness and longer service life, and also to develop new materials in order to achieve further advancements in Smart Tyre Concept – a forward-thinking concept for the development of tires and peripheral services.

At the same time, SRI and Tohoku University are also active participants in CREST (Core Research for Evolutionary Science and Technology), a program created by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) to promote and support original world-class research. Through CREST, the company is moving forward with the development of a multi-beam 4D-CT technique that can achieve ‘Ultra-High-Speed 4D-CT Imaging.’ SRI aims to develop even more advanced materials by utilizing this multi-beam 4D-CT technique in conjunction with machine learning and other advanced data processing techniques in order to analyze the enormous amounts of data that this imaging technique will generate once complete.

For more information: www.srigroup.co.jp

1. Source: W. Yashiro, et al., Optica, (2020). 7(5), 514.
2. CT (Computed Tomography) technology uses x-rays, etc. to capture multiple images of the internal structure of an object. A computer then converts these images into a single tomographic (i.e. cross section) image. This technology is commonly used by hospitals to perform CT scans.
3. Source: R. Mashita, et al., J. Synchrotron Rad., (2021). 28, 322.
4. The SPring-8 facility (Location: Sayo Town, Hyogo Prefecture) can generate a beam with energy of 8GeV, making it the most powerful synchrotron radiation facility in the world.