German Parliamentary State Secretary inaugurates BM18


On 25 October 2022, Mario Brandenburg, the Parliamentary State Secretary to the German Federal Minister of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, or BMBF) inaugurated the new EBS flagship beamline for tomography, BM18.

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BM18 is the ESRF’s new flagship beamline for hierarchical tomography using phase-contrast, a 3D imaging technique that is around a thousand times more precise than a medical scanner. Taking full advantage of the Extremely Brilliant Source (EBS) with its high-energy, highly coherent X-rays, the 220-m-long beamline, equipped with the world’s largest synchrotron sample stage, can scan very large samples with exceptional accuracy and with the possibility to zoom down to the micron scale using the hierarchical imaging system.

This will revolutionise scientific imaging, with applications in health and bio-imaging, materials science and new materials for industry, palaeontology and archaeology, as well as geosciences. It allows, for example, biomedical researchers to characterise the anatomy of complete human organs in 3D down to the cellular level in order to understand diseases such as COVID-19 [1,2], inflammatory or neurodegenerative diseases. It also provides new opportunities for industrial researchers to inspect large components for microscopic defects, improving the design of aeronautical or automotive materials. It enables non-destructive 3D scanning of larger archaeological and palaeontological specimens, as well as opening up new research into the seismic rupture in rocks that causes earthquakes, work that has resulted in the awarding of a European Research Council (ERC) grant to a long-term ESRF user.

BM18 represents a 13M€ investment funded by the ESRF’s 21 partner countries, with support of 6.3M€ from Germany’s BMBF. Parliamentary State Secretary to the German Federal Minister of Education and Research (BMBF) Mario Brandenburg officially opened the beamline in a symbolic ribbon-cutting ceremony, accompanied by Francesco Sette, ESRF director-general; Gabriele Fioni, Rector for Higher Education, Research and Innovation of the Academy of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region; Helmut Dosch, Chair of the ESRF Council, and Norman Uhlmann, Division Director of Fraunhofer IIS-EZRT.

[1] Imaging intact human organs with local resolution of cellular structures using hierarchical phase-contrast tomography, C.L. Walsh et al., Nature Methods (2021);
[2] The fatal trajectory of pulmonary COVID-19 is driven by lobular ischemia and fibrotic remodelling, M. Ackermann et al., eBioMedicine (2022);

Top image: From left: Francesco Sette, Paul Tafforeau, Gabriele Fioni, Mario Brandenburg, Helmut Dosch and Norman Uhlmann officially inaugurate new EBS flagship tomography beamline BM18. Photo: P. Jayet.