Project duration: 01.07.2010 – 30.06.2018


Progress in recent years concerning X-ray optics, detector technology, and the tremendous increase of processing speed of commodity computational architectures gives rise to a paradigm shift in synchrotron X-ray imaging. UFO aims to enable a new type of smart experiment using the vast computational power of massively parallel computation units: On-line assessment of sample dynamics will enable active image-based control, allow an unprecedented image quality, and will provide insight into so far inaccessible scientific processes.

Key technologies developed in UFO are:

  • By optimization of mechanics and X-ray optics time-resolved tomography – so called 4D Cine-Tomography – has been realized.
  • Accelerated reconstruction with GPUs enables online reconstruction and image quality control; the data processing pipeline can be configured by high-level description in the UFO Parallel Processing Framework; continuous processing of data streams in the order of Gigabytes per second.
  • By introduction of sample robots, fully automatization of the optical system and the integration of the reconstruction pipeline in the novel fast control system “Concert” sample throughput as high as 1000 tomograms per week of beamtime has been achieved.
  • A versatile high-throughput FPGA-based detector readout system has been developed.


Key application from material and life sciences:

Project Highlights Related publications
Material science applications
Investigation of Taylor bubble shape Stroboscopic tomography Boden et al. 2014,
Exp Fluids 55:1768
Investigation of the dynamics of the plasma bubble formed during pulsed laser ablation in liquids (PLAL) Shortest exposure times, pump-probe imaging Ibrahimkutty et al. 2015,
Sci Rep. 5:16313.
Crack propagation in polymer sheets High resolution time-lapse laminography Chen et al. 2016,
Macromol. Chem. Phys. 217:701−715
Life science application
Tomography of fossil weevils in amber Fast and high-resolution tomography Riedel et al. 2012,
Zool J Linnean Soc 165: 773-794.
Development of in vivo cine-tomography as a method to study morphological dynamics in living organisms in 4D. ultra-fast in vivo tomography; advanced image analysis using optical flow algorithms dos Santos Rolo et al. 2014,
PNAS 111: 3921-3926.
Creation of interactive reconstructions and 3D PDF animations to study the functional morphology of Trigonopterus weevils Fast and high-resolution tomography; interactive 3D animations van de Kamp et al. 2014,
PLoS ONE 9: e102355
Tomography of fossil wasps in amber Fast and high-resolution tomography, high sample throughput, automated reconstruction Butcher et al. 2014,
Zootaxa 3860: 449-463;
van de Kamp et al. 2014,
Entomologie heute 26: 151-160.
Investigation of teeth development during newt metamorphosis Fast and high-throughput tomography, automated reconstruction Greven et al. 2015,
Vertebrate Zoology 65: 81-99.
Construction of a biomimetic research pavilion based on tomography of beetle forewings Fast and high-resolution tomography; high sample-throughput, automated reconstruction van de Kamp et al. 2015, Entomologie heute 27: 149-158.
Investigation of the thorax morphology of death-feigning weevils based on 3D reconstructions Fast and high-resolution tomography van de Kamp et al. 2015,
Arthropod Struct Dev 34: 509-523.
Examination of phosphatized beetles from a largely neglected fossil collection Fast tomography; high sample-throughput, automated reconstruction Schwermann et al. 2016,
eLife 5: e12129.



  • T Baumbach, V Altpova, D Hänschke
    Laboratory for Applications of Synchrotron Radiation, KIT (LAS)
  • T dos Santos Rolo, A Ershov, L Helfen
    Institute for Photon Science and Synchrotron Radiation, KIT (IPS)
  • M Weber, M Caselle
    Institute of Experimental Nuclear Physics, KIT (IEKP)
  • A Kopmann, M Balzer, S Chilingaryan
    Institute for Data Processing and Electronics, KIT (IPE)
  • I Dalinger, A Myagotin
    Saint Petersburg State University of Civil Aviation (UCA)
  • V Asadchikov, A. Buzmakov
    Shubnikov Crystallography Institute (SCI)
  • S Tsapko, I Tsapko, V Vichugov, M Sukhodoev
    Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU)


Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Herrmann-von-Helmholtz-Platz 1
76344 Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, Germany
Matthias Balzer
Project Manager
P: +49 721 608-25696
F: +49 721 608-25594


The project has been funded within the “Joint Declaration on a Strategic Partnership in Education, Research and Innovation” between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Russian Federation.