Dipl Ing ETH Peter Vontobel

photo of Peter Vontobel Scientist

Paul Scherrer Institute
5232 Villigen – PSI

Telephone: +41 56 310 3687
E-mail: peter.vontobel@psi.ch


Peter Vontobel has a mechanical engineering degree from ETH in Zurich. At the beginning of his professional career he was working in the field of nuclear engineering and reactor physics. In the 1990’s he focused his research interest on positron emission tomography. Since 1998 he deals with neutron radiography and tomography at the spallation neutron source SINQ. Actually he is the principal beam line scientist of the thermal radiography beam line NEUTRA.

  • 1966 - 1973 College, Kollegium St. Fidelis, Stans, Matura Typ A
  • 1973 - 1977 Mechanical Engineering at ETH in Zürich, Dipl. Ing. ETH
Professional career
  • 1978 - 1984 Research Assistant at Laboratory of Nuclear Energy Systems of ETH (Prof. W. Hälg, Prof. G. Yadigaroglu)
  • 1985 - 1986 Nuclear engineer at Motor Columbus Engineers (now AF-Consult), Baden, Switzerland
  • 1987 - 1991 Scientific collaborator in the reactor physics division of EIR, Wuerenlingen (W. Seifriz, J. Stepanek).
  • 1992 - 1997 Scientist in Positron Emission Tomography program of PSI, Villigen (Prof. K. L. Leenders)
  • 1998 - 2013 Scientist at the spallation neutron source of SINQ/PSI (W. Wagner, E. H. Lehmann)
  • 2014 - NEUTRA Beamline responsible, Laboratory for Neutron Scattering and Imaging (Prof. C Rüegg, E. H. Lehmann)

Research interests

  • Neutron and X-ray imaging
  • Using IDL for quantitative neutron radiography evaluation


Wetting and drying in hydrophobic, macroporous asphalt structures
Sreeyuth Lal, Lily D Poulikakos, Iwan Jerjen, Peter Vontobel, Manfred N Partl, Dominique Derome and Jan Carmeliet
Construction and Building Materials  152  82-95  (2017)
Dynamic Wicking Process in Textiles
Parada M, Vontobel P, Rossi René M, Derome D, Carmeliet J
Transport in Porous Media      (2017)
Analysis of the 148Gd and 154Dy content in Proton-Irradiated Lead Targets
Z Talip, S Pfister, R Dressler, J C David, A Voegele, P Vontobel, R Michel, D Schumann
Analytical Chemistry    1-22  (2017)
Investigation of Gravity-Driven Drainage and Forced Convective Drying in a Macroporous Medium Using Neutron Radiography
Sreeyuth Lal, Lily D Poulikakos, Iwan Jerjen, Peter Vontobel, Manfred N Partl, Dominique Derome and Jan Carmeliet
Transport in Porous Media  online   1-24   (2017)
Assessment of Electromagnetic Stirrers Agitated Liquid Metal Flows by Dynamic Neutron Radiography
M Šžepanskis, M Sarma, P Vontobel, P Trtik, K Thomsen, A Jakovičs, and T Beinerts
Metallurgical and Materials Transactions B    1-10  (2017)
Water percolation through the root-soil interface
Benard P, Kroener E, Vontobel P, Kaestner A, Carminati A
Advances in Water Resources  95  190  (2016)
Effect of uneven root allocation on shoot Zn uptake by crop plants growing on soil with heterogeneous P and Zn distribution
Ma H, Evangelou Michael WH, Tandy S, Felderer B, Vontobel P, Schulin R
Environmental and Experimental Botany  130  226-232  (2016)
Transport of Polar and Nonpolar Liquids in Softwood Imaged by Neutron Radiography
Guylaine Desmarais, Marjan Sedighi Gilani, Peter Vontobel, Jan Carmeliet, Dominique Derome
Transport in Porous Media  113(2)  383-404  (2016)
Root growth and Zn uptake of three common crop plants in response to heterogeneity in soil texture and Zn distribution
Huifang Ma, Michael W. H. Evangelou, Bernd Felderer, Peter Vontobel, and Rainer Schulin
Environmental and Experimental Botany  127  45-54  (2016)
Absorption of impinging water droplet in porous stones
J.B. Lee, A.I. Radu, P. Vontobel, D. Derome, J. Carmeliet
Journal of Colloid and Interface Science  471  59–70  (2016)
The formation of viscous limited saturation zones behind rapid drainage fronts in porous media
Hoogland F, Lehmann P, Or D
Water Resources Research  51  9862  (2015)
Heat Induced Desorption of Moisture in Timber Joints with Fastener During Charring
Gilani, Marjan Sedighi; Hugi, Erich; Carl, Stephan; Palma, P ; Vontobel, P
Fire Technology  51(6)  1433-1445  (2015)
Cluster root allocation of white lupin (Lupinus albus L.) in soil with heterogeneous phosphorus and water distribution
Bernd Felderer, Peter Vontobel, Rainer Schulin
Soil Science and Plant Nutrition  61  940-950  (2015)
Mapping compensating root water uptake in heterogeneous soil conditions via neutron radiography
Abbas Dara, Barzin A. Moradi, Peter Vontobel, Sascha E. Oswald
Plant and Soil  397(1-2)  273-287  (2015)
Sorption kinetics of superabsorbent polymers (SAPs) in fresh Portland cement-based pastes visualized and quantified by neutron radiography and correlated to the progress of cement hydration
Christof Schroefl; Viktor Mechtcherine; Peter Vontobel; Jan Hovind; Eberhard Lehmann
Cement and Concrete Research  75  1-13  (2015)
A hygrothermo-mechanical model for wood: part A. Poroelastic formulation and validation with neutron imaging – COST Action FP0904 2010–2014: thermo-hydro-mechanical wood behavior and processing
Saeed Abbasion , Jan Carmeliet , Marjan Sedighi Gilani , Peter Vontobel and Dominique Derome
Holzforschung  aop  1-13  (2015)
Plastic shrinkage of mortars with shrinkage reducing admixture and lightweight aggregates studied by neutron tomography
Mateusz Wyrzykowski; Pavel Trtik; Beat Münch; Jason Weiss; Peter Vontobel; Pietro Lura
Cement and Concrete Research  73  238-245  (2015)
Real-time measurements of temperature, pressure and moisture profiles in High-Performance Concrete exposed to high temperatures during neutron radiography imaging
Toropovs, N; Lo Monte, F; Wyrzykowski, M ; Weber, B ; Sahmenko, G ; Vontobel, P; Felicetti, R ; Lura, P
Cement and Concrete Research  68  166-173  (2015)
Water and entrapped air redistribution in heterogeneous sand sample: Quantitative neutron imaging of the process
Snehota, M., V.Jelinkova, M.Sobotkova, J.Sacha, P.Vontobel, and J.Hovind
Water Resources Research  51(2)  1359-1371  (Feb 2015)
Transport of water through strain-hardening cement-based composite (SHCC) applied on top of cracked reinforced concrete slabs with and without hydrophobization of cracks – Investigation by neutron radiography
Christof Schröfl, Viktor Mechtcherine, Anders Kaestner, Peter Vontobel, Jan Hovind, Eberhard Lehmann
Construction and Building Materials  80  70-86  (2015)
3D mapping of water in oolithic limestone at atmospheric and vacuum saturation using X-ray micro-CT differential imaging
Boone, MA; De Kock, T; Bultreys, T; De Schutter, G; Vontobel, P; Van Hoorebeke, L; Cnudde, V
Materials Characterization  97  150-60  (2014)
Liquid uptake in Scots pine sapwood and hardwood visualized and quantified by neutron radiography
Sedighi-Gilani, Marjan; Vontobel, Peter; Lehmann, Eberhard; Carmeliet, Jan; Derome, Dominique
Materials and Structures  47 (6)  1083-1096  (2014)
A multi-imaging approach to study the root-soil interface
Rudolph-Mohr, Nicole; Vontobel, Peter; Oswald, Sascha E
Annals of botany  114 (8)  1779-87  (2014)
Morphological reconstruction of Roman arrowheads from Iulia Concordia: Italy
Filomena Salvemini, Francesco Grazzi, Ivana Angelini, Peter Vontobel, Alberto Vigoni, Gilberto Artioli, Marco Zoppi
Applied Physics A  117  1227-1240  (2014)
Understanding forced convective drying of apple tissue: Combining neutron radiography and numerical modelling
Aregawi Wondwosen, Defraeye Thijs, Saneinejad Saba, Vontobel Peter, Lehmann Eberhard, Carmeliet Jan, Verboven Pieter, Derome Dominique, Nicolai Bar
3D mapping of water in oolithic limestone at atmospheric and vacuum saturation using X-ray micro-CT differential imaging
Boone MA, De Kock T, Bultreys T, De Schutter G, Vontobel P, Van Hoorebeke L, Cnudde V
Materials Characterization      (2014)
Investigation of Water Uptake in Porous Asphalt Concrete Using Neutron Radiography
Sreeyuth Lal, Lily D. Poulikakos, Marjan Sedighi Gilani, Iwan Jerjen, Peter Vontobel, Manfred N. Partl, Jan C. Carmeliet, Dominique Derome
Transport in Porous Media  104(3)    (Nov, 2014)
Dual Spectrum Neutron Radiography: Identification of Phase Transitions between Frozen and Liquid Water
Biesdorf, J.; Oberholzer, P.; Bernauer, F. Kaestner, A ; Vontobel, P ; Lehmann, EH ; Schmidt, TJ; Boillat, P
Physical Review Letters  112,24  248301  (2014)
Residual strain mapping of Roman styli from Iulia Concordia, Italy
Filomena Salvemini, Francesco Grazzi, Ivana Angelini, Vadim Davydov, Peter Vontobel, Alberto Vigoni, Gilberto Artioli, Marco Zoppi
Materials Characterization  91  58-64  (2014)
Neutron radiography and X-ray computed tomography for quantifying weathering and water uptake processes inside porous limestone used as building material
J. Dewanckele, T. De Kock, G. Fronteau, H. Derluyn, P. Vontobel, M. Dierick, L. Van Hoorebeke, P. Jacobs, V. Cnudde
Materials Characterization  88c  86-99  (2014)
Novel Application of Neutron Radiography to Forced Convective Drying of Fruit Tissue
Defraeye, Thijs; Aregawi, Wondwosen; Saneinejad, Saba; Vontobel, Peter; Lehmann, Eberhard; Carmeliet, Jan; Verboven, Pieter; Derome, Dominique; Nicolai, Bart
Food and Bioprocess Technology  6(12)  3353-3367  (2013)
Recovering root system traits using image analysis - Exemplified by 2-dimensional neutron radiography images of lupine
Daniel Leitner, Bernd Felderer, Peter Vontobel, Andrea Schnepf
Plant Physiology  November  pp.113.227892  (2013)
Understanding forced convective drying of apple tissue: combining neutron radiography and numerical modelling
Wondwosen Aregawi, Thijs Defraeye, Saba Saneinejad, Peter Vontobel, Eberhard Lehmann, Jan Carmeliet, Pieter Verboven, Dominique Derome, Bart Nicolai
Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies      (2013)
Moisture Migration in Wood Under Heating Measured by Thermal Neutron Radiography
M. Sedighi Gilani, P. Vontobel, E. Lehmann, J. Carmeliet, D. Derome
Experimental Heat Transfer  27:2  160-179  (2013)
New insights into early bronze age damascene technique north of the alps
Daniel Berger, Katja Hunger, Sabine Bolliger-Schreyer, Daniel Grolimund, Stefan Hartmann, Jan Hovind, Felix Mueller, Eberhard H Lehmann, Peter Vontobel and Marie Woerle
The Antiquaries Journal  93  25-53  (2013)
Dehydration of apple tissue: Intercomparison of neutron tomography with numerical modelling
Wondwosen Aregawi, Thijs Defraeye, Saba Saneinejad, Peter Vontobel, Eberhard Lehmann, Jan Carmeliet, Dominique Derome, Pieter Verboven, Bart Nicolai
International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer  67  173-182  (2013)
Revealing the secrets of composite helmets of ancient Japanese tradition
F. Salvemini, F. Grazzi, A. Fedrigo, A. Williams, F. Civita, A. Scherillo, P. Vontobel, S. Hartmann, E. Lehmann, M. Zoppi
The European Physical Journal Plus  128:87    (2013)
Use of neutron radiography and tomography to visualize the autonomous crack sealing efficiency in cementitious materials
Van Tittelboom Kim, Snoeck Didier, Vontobel Peter, Wittmann Folker H., De Belie Nele
Materials and Structures  46  105-121  (2013)
Time resolved analysis of water drainage in porous asphalt concrete using neutron radiography
L.D. Poulikakos, M. Sedighi Gilani, D. Derome, I. Jerjen, P. Vontobel
Applied Radiation and Isotopes  77  5-13  (2013)
Characterizing saline uptake and salt distributions in porous limestone with neutron radiography and X-ray micro-tomography
Derluyn, H., Griffa, M., Mannes, D., Jerjen, I., Dewanckele, J., Vontobel, P., Sheppard, A., Derome, D., Cnudde, V., Lehmann, E., Carmeliet, J
Journal of Building Physics  36(4)  353-374  (2013)
Drying patterns of porous media containing wettability contrasts
N. Shokri, D. Or
Journal of Colloid and Interface Science  391  135-141  (2013)
Novel Application of Neutron Radiography to Forced Convective Drying of Fruit Tissue
T Defraeye, W Aregawi, S Saneinejad, P Vontobel, E Lehmann, J Carmeliet, P Verboven, D Derome, B Nicolai
Food and Bioprocess Technology  November    (2012)
Use of neutron radiography and tomography to visualize the autonomous crack sealing efficiency in cementitious materials
Kim Van Tittelboom, Didier Snoeck, Peter Vontobel, Folker H. Wittmann, Nele De Belie
Materials and Structures  July    (2012)
Application of X-ray and neutron tomography to study antique greek bronze coins with a high lead content
M Griesser, R Traum, K Vondrovec, P Vontobel, E H Lehmann
IOP Conf. Series: Materials Science and Engineering  37  012011  (2012)
Morphology, propagation dynamics and scaling characteristics of drying fronts in porous media
N. Shokri, Muhammad Sahimi, and D. Or
Geophysical Research Letters  39  L09401  (2012)
Materials issues of the SINQ high-power spallation target
Werner Wagner, Peter Vontobel, Yong Dai
International Journal of Materials Research  102  1101-1105  (2011)
Three-dimensional visualization and quantification of water content in the rhizosphere.
Ahmad B. Moradi, Andrea Carminati, Doris Vetterlein, Peter Vontobel, Eberhard Lehmann, Ulrich Weller, Jan W. Hopmans, Hans-Joerg Vogel and Sascha E. Oswald
New Phytologist      (2011)
Combined neutron and synchrotron X-ray microprobe analysis: attempt to disclose 3600 years-old secrets of a unique bronze age metal artifact
D. Grolimund, D. Berger, S. Bolliger Schreyer, C. N. Borca, S. Hartmann, F. Mueller, J. Hovind, K. Hunger, E. H. Lehmann P. Vontobel and H. A. O. Wang
J. Anal. At. Spectrom      (2011)
New insights into alloy compositions: studying Renaissance bronze statuettes by combined neutron imaging and neutron diffraction techniques
Robert van Langh, Jon James, Genoveva Burca, Winfried Kockelmann, Shu Yan Zhang, Eberhard Lehmann, Mirko Estermann and Arie Pappot
J. Anal. At. Spectrom      (2011)
High-resolution proxies for wood density variations in Terminalia superba
M De Ridder, J Van den Bulcke, D Vansteenkiste, D Van Loo, M Dierick,B Masschaele, Y De Witte, D Mannes, E Lehmann, H Beeckman,L Van Hoorebeke, J van Acker
Annals of Botany  107  293-302  (2011)
Neutron radiography and tomography of water distribution in the root zone
Esser HG, Carminati A, Vontobel P, Oswald SE
Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science  173(5)  757-764  (2010)
Quantitative determination of bound water diffusion in multilayer boards by means of neutron imaging
Sonderegger W, Hering S, Mannes D, Vontobel P, Lehmann E, Niemz P.
European Journal of Wood and Wood Products  68  341-350  (2010)
Observation and quantification of water penetration into Strain Hardening Cement-based Composites (SHCC) with multiple cracks by means of neutron radiography
Zhang P, Wittmann FH, Zhao TJ, Lehmann EH, Tian L, Vontobel P.
Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research A  620  414-420  (2010)
Dynamics of soil water content in the rhizosphere
Carminati A, Moradi AB, Vetterlein D, Vontobel P, Lehmann E, Weller U, Vogel HJ, Oswald SE.
Plant and Soil  332  163-176  (2010)
Evaporation from layered porous media
Shokri N, Lehmann P, Or D
Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth  115  B06204  (2010)
Structural characterization of unsaturated aggregated soil
A. Koliji, L. Vulliet, and L. Laloui
Canadian Geotechnical Journal  47(3)  297-311  (2010)
Noninvasive observation of flow patterns in locally heterogeneous mine soils using neutron radiation
Badorreck A., Gerke H. H., Vontobel P.
Vadose Zone Journal  9  1-11  (May 2010)
Water Content Wave Approach Applied to Neutron Radiographs of Finger Flow
Ingrid Hincapie and Peter Germann
Vadose Zone Journal  9  278-284  (2010)
Gravity-Driven Viscous Flow in Sand Boxes
Ingrid Hincapie and Peter Germann
Vadose Zone Journal  9  891-901  (2010)
Evaporation and capillary coupling across vertical textural contrasts in porous media
Lehmann P, Or D
PHYSICAL REVIEW E  80  046318  (Oct 2009)
Characteristics of evaporation from partially wettable porous media
Shokri N, Lehmann P, Or D
Water Resources Research  45  W02415  (Feb 12, 2009)
Normal-phase dynamic imaging of supercritical-water salt precipitation using neutron radiography
Andrew A. Peterson, Peter Vontobel, Frederic Vogel , Jefferson W. Tester
The Journal of Supercritical Fluids  49  71-78  (2009)
Assessment of structural evolution of aggregated soil using neutron tomography
A. Koliji, P. Lehmann, L. Vulliet, L. Laloui, A. Carminati, P. Vontobel, R. Hassanein
Water Resources Research  44  W00C07  (2008)
Measuring the effect of structural connectivity on the water dynamics in heterogeneous porous media using fast neutron tomography
J.D. Schaap, P. Lehmann, A. Kaestner, P. Vontobel, R. Hassanein, G. Frei, G.H. de Rooij, E. Lehmann, H. Fluehler
Advances in Water Resources  31(9)  1233-1241  (2008)
Drying front and water content dynamics during evaporation from sand delineated by neutron radiography
Shokri, N., P. Lehmann, P. Vontobel, and D. Or
Water Resources Research  44  W06418  (2008)
In situ visualization of the performance of a supercritical-water salt separator using neutron radiography
A.A. Peterson, P. Vontobel, F. Vogel, J.W. Tester
The Journal of Supercritical Fluids 43 (3): 490-499, (2008)  43(3)  490-499  (2008)
Three-dimensional petrographical investigations on borehole rock samples: a comparison between X-ray Computed- and Neutron Tomography
P. Christe, M. Bernasconi, P. Vontobel, P. Turberg, and A. Parriaux
Acta Geotechnica  2 (4)  269-279  (2007)
Energy-selective neutron transmission imaging at a pulsed source
W. Kockelmann, G. Frei, E.H. Lehmann, P. Vontobel, J.R. Santisteban
Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research A  578  421-434  (2007)
Structure and neutron imaging characteristics of lithium borate-barium chloride glass-ceramics
Appleby GA, Edgar A, Williams GVM, Vontobel P
Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research A  564 (1)  424-430  (2006)
Quantitative determination of absorbed hydrogen in oxidised zircaloy by means of neutron radiography
M. Grosse, E. Lehmann, P. Vontobel, M. Steinbrueck
Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research A  566  739-745  (2006)
Investigation of water imbibition in porous stone by thermal neutron radiography
R Hassanein, H O Meyer, A Carminati, M Estermann, E Lehmann and P Vontobel
Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics  39  4284-4291  (2006)
Mapping the 3D water dynamics in heterogeneous sands using thermal neutrons
A. Kaestner, R. Hassanein, P. Vontobel, P. Lehmann, J. Schaap, E. Lehmann and H. Fluehler
Chemical Engineering Journal  130 (2-3)  79-85  (2007)
Post-irradiation analysis of SINQ target rods by thermal neutron radiography
Vontobel P., Tamaki M., Mori N., Ashida T., Zanini L., Lehmann E.H., Jaggi M.
Journal of Nuclear Materials  356 (1-3)  162-167  (2006)
Neutron tomography: Method and applications
Peter Vontobel, Eberhard H. Lehmann, Rene Hassanein, Gabriel Frei
Physica B: Condensed Matter  385-386  475-480  (2006)
Tomographical imaging and mathematical description of porous media used for the prediction of fluid distribution
Lehmann P, Wyss P, Flisch A, Lehmann E, Vontobel P, Krafczyk M, Kaestner A, Beckmann F, Gygi A, Fluehler H
Vadose Zone Journal  5 (1)  80-97  (2006)
Neutron tomography of internal structures of vertebrate remains: A comparison with X-ray computed tomography
Schwarz D, Vontobel P, Lehmann EH, Meyer CA, Bongartz G
Palaeontologia electronica
An on-line study of fuel cell behavior by thermal neutrons
Kramer D, Lehmann E, Frei G, P. Vontobel, A. Wokaun, G.G. Scherer
Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research A  542  52-60  (Apr. 2005)
Application of an iterative artefact reduction method to neutron tomography
S. Kasperl, P. Vontobel
Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research A  542  392-398  (Apr. 2005)
Comparison of X-ray and Neutron Tomography Investigations of Geological Materials
P. Vontobel, E. Lehmann, WD Carlson
IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science  52 (1)  338-341  (Febr. 2005)
In situ neutron radiography of lithium-ion batteries: the gas evolution on graphite electrodes during the charging
D. Goers, M. Holzapfel, W. Scheifele, E. Lehmann, P. Vontobel, P. Novak
Journal of Power Sources  130  221-226  (2004)