Imaging the Pore Structure of Geomaterials

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Science  14 Apr 1995:
Vol. 268, Issue 5208, pp. 276-279
DOI: 10.1126/science.268.5208.276


Laser scanning confocal microscopy can be used to image the pore structure of geologic materials in three dimensions at a resolution of 200 nanometers. The technique involves impregnation of the void space with an epoxy doped with a fluorochrome whose fluorescent wavelength matches the excitation wavelength. Optical sections with a thickness of less than 1 micrometer can be sliced from thick polished sections and combined to produce three-dimensional reconstructions. Application of the technique to rocks with porosities from 1 to 20 percent reveals the geometric complexity of the pore space. The technique can also be applied to other brittle solids such as ceramics.