X-ray Microscopic Examination of a Nutmeg Seed

Figure 1: Clipped volumetric rendering of a nutmeg seed


Nutmeg is a key ingredient in fall and winter seasonal dishes, especially in combination with cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. As Thanksgiving approaches, we imaged a nutmeg seed using our new SkyScan 1272 CMOS edition desktop micro-CT, which is ideal for digitizing natural history samples. This upgraded instrument allows us to perform high-resolution imaging in a desktop instrument with improved speed compared to the previous CCD- based detector.

With the size of the nutmeg seed, we incorporated two imaging modes to capture the sample: offset (double width) and oversize (two connected scans along the length of the sample). Through NRecon software, the four individual portions of the acquisition are all seamlessly connected into a single dataset during the reconstruction process. The ability to use offset and/or oversize imaging allows you greater flexibility in selecting a voxel size for your project.

Figure 2: Planar 2D views of the nutmeg seed dataset

As shown in Figure 2, the SkyScan 1272 CMOS edition micro-CT captured the fine porosity and subtle density differences within the seed using an isotropic voxel size of 9 µm.  The skin of the seed appears to be highest in density within the sample as expected. Surprisingly, many fine pores and openings are also present within the seed.

Figure 3: High-resolution 2D slice through the center of the nutmeg seed

To better view the fine pore networks within the nutmeg seed, we used DataViewer to examine the dataset with planar slices along the transaxial direction of the seed (Figure 3). In addition to the pores, veining is visible within the sample, which matches our physical observations upon grating the sample to destructively reveal the interior contents.

Figure 4: Clipped volumetric 3D rendering of the nutmeg seed


CTVox allows us to interactively explore the dataset in 3D including adding textures, colors, and shadows to improve the realism of the rendered data (Figure 4). CTVox also enables digital dissection of the dataset to reveal and highlight the key internal features present in the sample.


The SkyScan 1272 CMOS edition continues the strong legacy of the model focusing on high-resolution imaging in a small desktop instrument while adding the improved speed provided by the new CMOS detector.

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 Specifications


Sample Nutmeg Seed
Voltage (kV) 80
Current (µA) 125
Filter 1 mm Aluminum
Pixel Size (µm) 9
Rotation Step 0.2
Exposure Time (ms) 2367
Rotation Extent (deg.) 180
Scan Time (HH:MM:SS) 06:42:02

These scans were completed on our high-speed desktop SkyScan 1275 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.

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.


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