CSIRO collaboration on ‘world’s top 100’ list

By June 23rd, 2011

The Maia X-ray Microprobe Element Imaging System developed for use at the Australian Synchrotron by CSIRO and Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York has won a prestigious R&D 100 Award.

Convened by the US-based R&D Magazine, the annual R&D 100 Awards recognise the 100 most technologically significant products from around the world introduced into the marketplace in the past year.

The Maia system is a high-throughput X-ray fluorescence detector system which – when combined with a focused X-ray source such as a synchrotron X-ray microprobe beamline – is able to produce high-definition, quantitative elemental images with microscopic or nanoscopic detail in real-time.

“The Maia system allows samples to be scanned up to 1000 times faster and in much greater detail than previous methods using its large detector array and real-time processing capacity to map trace elements very rapidly at micron resolution and over centimetre scales including whole geological thin sections,” said CSIRO’s Dr Chris Ryan – one of the system’s primary developers together with Brookhaven physicist, Dr Peter Siddons.

Minister for Innovation Senator Kim Carr, welcomed the award, saying the success of this collaborative effort is an outstanding example of how Australia can build transformational capabilities through global partnerships.

“The Maia system allows samples to be scanned up to 1000 times faster and in much greater detail than previous methods”

CSIRO’s Dr Chris Ryan

“Our ability to innovate through research and development is vital for future prosperity.  Government and industry must continue to work in partnership to foster a culture of innovation.”
Development of the Maia detector was commissioned by the Australian Synchrotron in 2008 and since its delivery in March 2010 has been providing high-definition elemental images of complex natural samples.

A team of scientists and engineers from CSIRO collaborated with researchers from Brookhaven National Laboratory over eight years to develop the Maia detector which is now used to aid research in the biological, geological, materials and environmental sciences, medicine and cultural heritage.

CSIRO gold exploration expert, Dr Rob Hough, said the Maia detector has revolutionised the way researchers map trace elements in a range of mineral exploration and ore samples.

“The Maia detector has for the first time allowed us to actually see the distribution of trace gold in our samples. Being able to map large areas quickly enables us to look for the hidden gold across the sample and it’s turning up in places we would have never looked at before.”

Future directions on the Maia project look towards enhanced capabilities, commercialisation and further Maia installations in major facilities around the world.

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