X-ray Microscopic Examination of a Leaking AA Battery

Figure 1: Photograph of battery, with leaking components, imaged using the SkyScan 1273

Batteries are of growing importance from both a sustainability and energy storage standpoint as our world continues to require larger energy demands to sustain our lifestyles. Batteries are useful as a repository for excess energy produced during times when the supply exceeds the local demand and can be used, for instance, to store excess energy produced during the daytime with solar panels for release later at night when the solar panel production ceases. Batteries also provide a convenient, portable source of power for modern electronic devices.

Standard alkaline batteries are ubiquitous in the market and their design and construction are well noted. Micro-CT imaging allowed us to examine an alkaline AA battery with high resolution views of each key component.

X-Ray Microscopic Imaging of Batteries

Wen examined an AA battery sample, which had developed a leak over years of infrequent use, using our high-powered SkyScan 1273 micro-CT at an isotropic voxel size of 10µm.


Figure 2: Planar 2D views of the battery sample

As shown in Figure 2, the SkyScan 1273 micro-CT provides a clear view through the AA battery and individual components of its construction are present. Notably, the potassium hydroxide (KOH) which leaked outside the battery to form the white deposits, is not visible in Figure 2 as the X-ray attenuation of the porous KOH film is closer to air than to the larger attenuation of the individual battery components. Notably, the negative cap, negative collection pin, outer metal can, manganese oxide cathode, and the zinc oxide cathode are all visible.

Figure 3: Clipped 3D CTVox volumetric rendering of AA battery sample highlighting the individual components

When moving out to a volumetric view of each dataset, the full structure of the individual components is more evident (Figure 3). In investigating a possible leak path for the KOH, the interactive 3D view provided by CTVox can be particularly useful.

Figure 4: Cylindrically clipped view through the battery dataset highlighting the anode

Using clipping planes or shapes within CTVox, we can spotlight regions of interest such as the anode within our battery sample, as shown in Figure 4. While clipping planes are useful to slice through the dataset, the available clipping shapes can also be used to subtract or isolate specific regions of the dataset with more geometrical freedom than is possible with standard cubic faces.


Figure 5: Comparison of the battery dataset as collected (top) and after background flood fill segmentation within Synopsys’ Simpleware™ ScanIP software into distinct masks (bottom)

The volumetric datasets provided by micro-CT imaging are ideal for conversion to 3D models, which can be used for computational simulations or additive manufacturing. One key step in the process is the segmentation of a grayscale dataset arising from micro-CT imaging into a distinct model. The most typical way segmentation occurs in Bruker CTAnalyzer is through thresholding, with global thresholding being the most popular. In many cases, different portions of the sample may be represented in the grayscale images with overlapping intensity values, requiring either careful definition of a region of interest or several cleanup steps to isolate only the feature of interest for modeling.

Within our laboratory, we also often utilize Simpleware ScanIP software (Version U-2022.12-SP1; Synopsys, Inc., Mountain View, USA) to import our Bruker SkyScan micro-CT data and then produce optimized 3D models. As with CTAnalyzer, Simpleware ScanIP software allows us to utilize a traditional global threshold to select portions of our sample. However, in this case a background flood fill tool is a better option to allow us to digitally isolate each component of the battery into a separate mesh which would be more challenging to try to complete within CTAnalyzer (Figure 5). With the background flood fill tool in Simpelware ScanIP software, you can define a seed starting point in your background images and select an upper and lower threshold value to be included or excluded from your selection. From this point, the software will grow the seed point in 3D space within the bounds of your threshold selection to capture the component of interest.

Figure 6: Maverick 3D rendering of the individually meshed model of the negative cap (top) and the collector pin (bottom) isolated from within the assembled AA battery dataset

Once we’ve isolated our relevant features and created unique modeled meshes for each, we’re free to move into any downstream 3D software suite to complete further work. In our case, we imported our meshed into Maverick Render Indie to create high resolution photo realistic renderings and videos of our scan data as shown in Figure 6, highlighting both the negative cap of the battery as well as the anode collector pin.

Figure 7: Maverick 3D rendering of a view of the AA battery dataset with the outer metal can clipped to show the relative location of the anode, cathode, and collector pin

Just like inspecting individual components, we can also inspect assemblies of subcomponents as a larger dataset to note relative position and assembly details. Once again, we used Maverick Render Indie to create a high-resolution photo realistic rendering of a clipped view through the metal battery can, highlighting the cathode as well as the anode and anode collector pin as shown in Figure 7.


Among the SkyScan product line, the SkyScan 1273 stands alone for its versatility as it can accommodate the widest range of sample sizes to image samples from small to quite large (~10 inches).  For this project, we worked near the maximum resolution of the SkyScan 1273 to capture a high-resolution dataset of the defective AA battery sample.

We hope you found this Image of the Month informative and encourage you to subscribe to our newsletter and social media channels in preparation for the continuation of our Image of the Month series next month.

Scan Specification


Sample AA Battery
Voltage (kV) 130
Current (µA) 115
Filter 2.0 mm Copper
Voxel Size (µm) 10
Rotation Step 0.3
Exposure Time (ms) 800
Rotation Extent (deg.) 360
Scan Time (HH:MM:SS) 12:21:28

These scans were completed on our SkyScan 1273 micro-CT system at the Micro Photonics Imaging Laboratory in Allentown, PA. Reconstructions were completed using NRecon 2.0 while visualization and volumetric inspection of the 2D and 3D results were completed using DataViewer and CTVox. Individual components were meshed using Synopsys’ Simpleware ScanIP software software with the CAD add-on module (Synopsys, Inc., Mountain View, USA) before 3D rendering using Maverick Render Indie (Random Control, Madrid, Spain).

Would you like your work to be featured in our monthly newsletter? If so, please contact us by calling Seth Hogg at 610-366-7103 or e-mailing seth.hogg@microphotonics.com.




*Simpleware software (Synopsys, Inc., Mountain View, USA) enables you to comprehensively process 3D image data (MRI, CT, micro-CT, FIB-SEM…) and export models suitable for CAD, CAE and 3D printing. Use Simpleware software’s capabilities to visualize, analyze, and quantify your data, and to export models for design and simulation workflows. Simpleware™ is a trademark of Synopsys, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.


Related Products

Related Articles


For all 3D imaging experts, computer scientists, and A.I. engineers, if you haven’t heard, there

US Partner Form

    Coming Soon:

    Customer access to tips and instructional videos, method notes, tutorials, application notes, and other content to support your research.


    Service Engineer opening for Micro-CT Systems

    We are looking for a service engineer to join our team of experts in helping advance research by providing technical support and maintenance for micro-CT systems across the United States.

    Please submit resumes to: info@microphotonics.com

    Micro Photonics Inc.
    1550 Pond Road, STE 110
    Allentown, PA 18104



    VMX Veterinary Meeting and Expo

    Orlando, FL
    January 13-17
    Booth 2859

    ORS Annual Meeting

    Salt Lake City, UT
    Long Beach, CA
    February 2-6
    Booth 30

    WVC Annual Conference

    Las Vegas, NV
    February 19-21
    Booth 1484

    Privacy Policy

    What information do we collect? We collect information from you when you register on our site, place an order, subscribe to our newsletter or fill out a form. When ordering or registering on our site, as appropriate, you may be asked to enter your: name, e-mail address, mailing address, phone number or credit card information. You may, however, visit our site anonymously.
    What do we use your information for? Any of the information we collect from you may be used in one of the following ways:

    ; To personalize your experience (your information helps us to better respond to your individual needs).

    ; To improve customer service (your information helps us to more effectively respond to your customer service requests and support needs).

    ; To process transactions. Your information, whether public or private, will not be sold, exchanged, transferred, or given to any other company for any reason whatsoever, without your consent, other than for the express purpose of delivering the purchased product or service requested.

    ; To send periodic emails .The email address you provide for order processing, will only be used to send you information and updates pertaining to your order.Note: If at any time you would like to unsubscribe from receiving future emails, we include detailed unsubscribe instructions at the bottom of each email.

    Terms and Conditions

    Terms of Service for www.microphotonics.com

    Introduction. Welcome to www.microphotonics.com. This website is owned and operated by Micro Photonics Inc. By visiting our website and accessing the information, resources, services, products, and tools we provide, you understand and agree to accept and adhere to the following terms and conditions as stated in this policy (hereafter referred to as ‘User Agreement’), along with the terms and conditions as stated in our Privacy Policy (please refer to the Privacy Policy section below for more information).

    This agreement is in effect as of October 25, 2018.

    We reserve the right to change this User Agreement from time to time without notice. You acknowledge and agree that it is your responsibility to review this User Agreement periodically to familiarize yourself with any modifications. Your continued use of this site after such modifications will constitute acknowledgment and agreement of the modified terms and conditions.

    Responsible Use and Conduct. By visiting our website and accessing the information, resources, services, products, and tools we provide for you, either directly or indirectly (hereafter referred to as ‘Resources’), you agree to use these Resources only for the purposes intended as permitted by (a) the terms of this User Agreement, (b) the terms of any applicable confidentiality, non-disclosure, or other agreement between you and a third party, and (c) applicable laws, regulations and generally accepted online practices or guidelines.

    Call Now Button