A Web Interface to Large, High-Resolution X-Ray Computed Tomography Data Sets


October 7, 2005


High-resolution X-ray computed tomography (HRXCT) provides highly detailed three-dimensional data on the exterior form and interior structure of solid objects. The data produced by the UTCT Lab facility at the University of Texas at Austin are HRXCT scans of various biological organisms, ranging from dinosaurs to mice and geological objects including meteorites and deep sea cores. The Digital Library of Vertebrate Morphology (or Digimorph Project) has for the last eight years acquired and scanned some of the world’s most spectacular organisms. To date, these data have been released as highly compressed renderings in the form of movies and web sized versions of the data. In order to provide access to full sized datasets and enhance research tools for viewing these data we have developed UTCT. These data sets are large (1-4 GB in size) and the display and dissemination of these datasets is a challenge. We have built a SQL Server based system which hosts metadata and raw imagery and which allows rapid and flexible access to volumetric data.

The visualization options on the web site range from simple to complex. Users can currently choose from a “light-table” viewer or a Java slice viewer from this site. They can also download all or parts of the data at multiple bit-depths and file formats. Finally, users will soon have the option to remotely volume render these data using one of several tools being developed. One approach uses the Meshviewer/Vista combination on Maverick, a TeraGrid-funded visualization system to remotely render their volume using a VNC client and a high-speed Internet connection. Other possibilities are also under development. The combination of these options gives users a rich set of tools for exploring the data.


Julian Humphries

Humphries is a Research Scientist in the Geology Department at the University of Texas and Project Manger for the Digital Library of Vertebrate Morphology (or Digimorph Project), an NSF funded Digital Library Project. His background is in biology and biological informatics.