The Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig

is a research museum of the Leibniz Association

Gold makes invisible surfaces visible in CT

New method for displaying previously invisible surface details using computer tomography developed / Researchers in Cologne and Bonn coat samples with gold


Today, the three-dimensional visualization and analysis of biological samples using computer tomography (CT) is a routine procedure. However, in the past it was very difficult to visualize the fine surface details of many organisms. Scientists at the Universities of Cologne and Bonn and the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig – Leibniz Institute for Animal Biodiversity in Bonn have now developed a new method to digitally capture and display even the finest surface structures. To achieve this, they coated the samples with a thin layer of gold, a technique that has previously only been used in scanning electron microscopy. Besides the implementation in biological sciences, the new method also holds promise for more practical areas of application such as material sciences or quality control in manufacturing companies. The research results have now been published in the ‘Journal of Anatomy’.

‘Up to now, many delicate surface structures of our research objects could simply not be represented by means of computer tomographic analyses’, explains Peter Rühr, MSc, a doctoral student at the University of Cologne’s Zoological Institute. Together with Dr Markus Lambertz, a zoologist at the University of Bonn and Museum Koenig, he developed the new method to make these low-contrast structures visible in the digital scans. The key to success was the combination of modern X-ray-based computer tomography and the traditional sample preparation of scanning electron microscopy.

More informations:

Peter Rühr, M.Sc.
Institut für Zoologie, Universität zu Köln
Zentrum für Molekulare Biodiversitätsforschung, Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig
+49 221 470-6626

Dr. Markus Lambertz
Institut für Zoologie, Universität Bonn
Sektion Herpetologie, Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum AlexanderKoenig
+49 228 735 491

Robert Hahn
+49 221 470-2396
r.hahn [at]

Surface contrast enhancement of integumentary structures in X‐ray tomography


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