Micro-CT in Pharmaceuticals

In recent years X-ray Micro Computed Tomography (CT) has become established in the pharmaceutical industry as a vital analytical tool, enabling significant advances in product development, quality control and packaging.

Bruker’s SkyScan micro-CT instruments have been adopted by the world’s leading pharma companies, as well as academic research groups. They combine class-leading resolution and performance, with easy-to-use workflows.

Pharmaceutical Micro-CT Applications

Non-destructive 3D internal imaging – see inside your sample


Micro-CT, also referred to as X-Ray Microscopy (XRM), is widely used in areas such as:

Tablet Development

  • Compaction density (porosity, pore size, distribution)
  • Identify stress-induced micro-cracks
  • Measure coating thickness and uniformity
  • Distribution of active ingredients (total volume and percent volume)
  • In-situ compression testing

Packaging & Sealing

  • Seal integrity – locate gaps and leaks
  • Compare changes to optimise your processes
  • Measure component variation from your suppliers

Final Product Inspection

  • Check component alignment – without opening the packaging
  • Detect defects
  • Quantitative 3D measurements
  • Pre- and post- usage performance tests
  • High throughput scanning of medical devices

Failure Analysis

  • Non-destructive investigation – see where and how the failure occurred
  • Root cause analysis
  • Archive digital information
Micro-CT scan of coatings on a pharmaceutical drug
Micro-CT scan of a pharmaceutical drug. The coating protects the active ingredient from stomach acid and delays release until the granule arrives in the small intestine. This scan shows the three layers colour-coded by thickness. The outer layer is smooth and homogeneous for efficient drug uptake. Taken with the Bruker SkyScan 1272 (pixel size 0.45 micron).

Tablet scanned with the Bruker SkyScan 2214

Medical Inhaler

Inhaler scanned with the Bruker SkyScan 1275
Pharmaceutical Syringe

Syringe scanned with the Bruker SkyScan 1275
Bruker Micro-CT Pharmaceuticals Brochure

Micro-CT for the Pharmaceutical Industries Brochure

Download a pdf of Bruker’s brochure with an overview of pharmaceutical applications:


Left: Paracetamol tablet – colour-coded by coating thickness. Taken with the Bruker SkyScan 1272.

Bruker Micro-CT Sample Changer

High-throughput Micro-CT with a Sample Changer

Automated scanning to save time. Ideal for comparing large numbers of samples and for quality control.

More info…

Pharmaceutical Tablet
Tablet with the corner virtually removed. 4032 x 4032 x 1910 pixels. 3.9 μm isotropic resolution. Taken with the Bruker SkyScan 2214 nano-CT.
Micro-CT Scan of a Tablet
Scan of a tablet in its packaging, taken with the Bruker SkyScan 1275.

Recorded Live Stream: An Inside Look at Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices

See how X-ray microscopy’s used for non-destructibe product inspection and QA of pharmaceuticals and medical devices in Bruker’s live stream – available to watch on YouTube. The stream includes demos, discussion and more:

Bruker XRM Instruments

Blue Scientific is the official distributor of Bruker X-Ray Microscopy instruments in the UK, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Iceland and Norway. We’re here to advise on which system would suit your research, and we also offer service and support.

Bruker SkyScan 1275 Micro-CT

Bruker SkyScan 1275

Fast, self-optimising benchtop scanner. High quality scans at the press of a button.

More info…

Bruker Skyscan 1272

Bruker SkyScan 1272

Sub-micron resolution from a benchtop system. World’s first scanner with >200Mp in each cross-section.

More info…

Bruker SkyScan 2214

Bruker SkyScan 2214

Multi-scale nano-CT for the widest range of object sizes/ resolutions.

More info…