QUESTERA and the MicDigi lab of PUC-Rio Establish a Partnership in 2D and 3D Digital Microscopy for the Characterization of materials

QUESTERA and the MicDigi lab of PUC-Rio Establish a Partnership in 2D and 3D Digital Microscopy for the Characterization of materials

QUESTERA CONSULTING S.A., a Brazilian consulting services company specialized in Information Technology and Telecommunications strategy, management and innovation, is partnering with MicDigi, the digital microscopy and image analysis group of the Materials Engineering Department at the Rio de Janeiro Catholic University (PUC-Rio). The objective of the partnership is to offer materials characterization services based on IT enabled automated image analysis. These services have innumerous applications to enhance product and process quality in different industries, like oil & gas, mining, steel, car, aerospace and health, among others.

The technology uses specialized hardware and software for 2D and 3D image analysis, starting with image capture via optical, electronic or atomic force microscopes or via x-ray micro tomography. The analyses of the images offer critical information about properties of the examined materials, with direct positive impact on their practical application. The present knowledge frontier in the field is precisely in 3D analysis, which offers more complete and accurate information than the existing projection or surface technologies provided by microscopy. However, this evolution relies on significant computational, both hardware and software, challenges. In particular, the present R&D agenda includes parallel processing, efficient multicore and high performance computing, clusters, SSDs, etc., to deal with the enormous quantities of data involved. Just to give an order of magnitude, consider a single series of 2000 images, each of 2000 X 2000 pixels, totaling 8GB, which is only the basic input, over which extensive mathematical computations for processing and analysis are typically done.

The MicDigi researchers have been working in this area for more than 25 years, and the industry users of their research include several of the largest Brazilian companies, like Petrobras, Vale, Usiminas, Samarco and Oxiteno. The joint effort with QUESTERA will develop customized solutions for lab, industry or research center applications. It will also probably require additional partnerships with hardware and software companies able to provide the advanced computational resources needed in the project.

The MicDigi Coordinator and Senior Scientific Advisor of QUESTERA, Sidnei Paciornik, is an associated professor of PUC-Rio. Prof. Paciornik holds a post doctoral degree at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in the United States, and is a visiting professor of the French École des Mines, in Paris. He is also a member of the ASTM committee responsible for the definition of standards for material analysis. The laboratory also partners with Carl Zeiss Vision, which provides last generation microscopes and related software licenses. Digital microscopy applications at the MicDigi are considered by Carl Zeiss to be among the most advanced in the world for this kind of equipment and software. They are developed both in proprietary and open source code, in Linux environments.

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