Annual Report 2002 - Cornell University
003 Selected Faculty Research

09 Experimenting with a one-of-a-kind x-ray camera

Sol M. Gruner, Physics, and research colleagues developed a microsecond-imaging x-ray camera and conducted first experiments with it. Using this one-of-a kind camera, the researchers captured moving images of shock waves from diesel fuel as it emerged at supersonic speeds from an automobile engine fuel injector—a phenomenon never before measured (MacPhee et al., Science 295 [2002]). The x-ray camera, the Cornell Pixel Array Detector (PAD) can image phenomena that are hidden from optical cameras, yet visible by x-rays. In its final form, the camera will be used for major experiments never before possible, for example, x-ray imaging of crack propagation in materials. In the fuel injector experiment, conducted at the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source, of which Gruner is director, the researchers were able to penetrate droplets of fuel as they emerged through a fuel injector nozzle of 178 microns across traveling at 345 meters per second. The droplets of fuel formed a fog that causes light to scatter and prevents optical imaging of the fuel. The fuel injection research, a collaboration with Jin Wang's group at Argonne National Laboratory, may suggest ways to make fuel-injected engines more efficient and less polluting.

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