To achieve the best performance and desired properties in composite materials, the matrix and reinforcing phase are processed to produce extremely complex three-dimensional architectures. Due to this complexity and structural anisotropy, thorough microstructural characterization is crucial, utilizing advanced microscopy techniques.
Correlate the microstructure of composite materials at diﬀerent length scales and use various modalities that will help you in gaining deep materials science insights. While light and electron microscopy techniques permit rapid surface characterization, X-ray microscopy enables full three-dimensional characterization non-destructively, also allowing you to conduct in situ mechanical testing to observe fracture behavior in composite materials.
- Processing: Study the methods and processes used to produce novel ﬁber composite materials with X-ray Microscopes (XRM) or Scanning Electron Microscopes (SEM).
- Structure: Observe and quantify the produced microstructures in situ non-destructively with XRM, or investigate structure-property relationships with multi-modal microscopy techniques, from Light Microscopy and X-ray Microscopy to taking advantage of Focused Ion Beam Scanning Electron Microscopes (FIB-SEM), combined with correlative software.
- Properties and Performance: Investigate or predict how a composite material, like a woven ceramic matrix composite, will perform in real-world conditions by conducting multi-scale in situ imaging with XRM.
To characterize your composite material comprehensively, you will need to perform in situ experiments and investigate details at high magniﬁcations. Beneﬁt from imaging a sample before and after the application of tension or shear using X-ray microscopy and add high resolution imaging in an SEM to complement your analysis.
- Conduct non-destructive, high resolution 3D microstructural analysis of large samples by X- ray microscopy.
- Preserve the sample for additional methods such as dynamic mechanical analysis and mechanical shear tests.
- Use scanning electron microscopy additionally to apply low vacuum, using speciﬁc detectors to achieve highly resolved, artifact-free imaging.
- Characterize large surfaces to determine void fractions, ﬁber orientation and matrix integrity using light microscopes (LM).
Carbon ﬁber-reinforced composite sample imaged using three diﬀerent modes – Brightﬁeld, Darkfield and DIC (Differential Interference Contrast) on a ZEISS Axio Imager LM. The three modes provide diﬀerent contrast revealing details of ﬁbers oriented along diﬀerent directions. The darkﬁeld contrast provides details related to the matrix.
Carbon ﬁber composite cross-section taken at 5x magniﬁcation ZEISS Axio Imager. The contrast provided by light microscopy enables rapid segmentation and quantiﬁcation of the void fraction in composite specimens over large areas. Furthermore, high magniﬁcation and a combination of ﬁlters (ﬂuorescence ﬁlter) deliver rapid results on individual ﬁber placement, spacing and other characteristics over a targeted site of interest that are important to the characterization at the smaller length scales. ZEISS Axio Imager 2, ZEISS Axio Lab.A1, ZEISS Axioscope, ZEISS Axio Zoom.V16.
Creating structural materials requires you to understand damage initiation and failure mechanisms in structural components. Failures often nucleate inside the bulk, are unobservable until fracture is reached, occur on the microscopic scale, and can exhibit complex 3D characteristics.Mitigate these challenges in characterization and move towards microscopy as a complementary technique to bulk mechanical testing.
- Start the workflow with a light microscope to observe small defects early.
- Employ 3D X-ray microscopy as a second step to examine internal structural damage across multiple length scales,
- Finally, capture characteristic features at the finest length scale using a focused ion beam scanning electron microscope (FIB-SEM).
- With the aid of correlative software, retain the context of all data: FIB-SEM, optical and X-ray techniques.
Multi-scale model of a carbon fiber composite material acquired with correlative microscopy techniques.
Post-tear/delamination observation of a woven carbon fiber composite sample using darkfield mode on a ZEISS Axio-Imager light microscope. The darkfield mode delivers high contrast and enables viewing the half section of the delaminated composite ply, providing unique insights on the distribution of the epoxy within the sample. Using the extended focus function over 40 Z-slices and a large mosaic area, information on the weave quality and the epoxy distrbution can be readily obtained over a wide region of the sample. Sample courtesy of University of Wichita.
Find out how materials researchers all over the world are working every day to improve our understanding of fiber composite materials. In this area, there has been a wide range of publications investigating the properties and performance of fiber composite materials with scanning electron microscopy and X-ray microscopy techniques.
- Fracture-resistant silicon carbide ceramic fiber matrix composites
- Non-crimp fabric reinforced polyester composite
- 3D-printed structures
- Hygrothermal aging and structural damage
Nanoscale X-ray tomography of carbon nanotube yarn reveals the orientational domains that are only observed along the axial direction imaged on the ZEISS Xradia Ultra 810 X-ray microscope at 64 nm voxel resolution. Sample courtesy of NASA, US.
Segmented 3D image of the composite, showing E-glass fibers (red), polypropylene fibers (blue), and voids (white spheres), X-ray microscopy.
The Axioscope upright light microscope was designed specifically to meet the most common optical imaging requirements of materials laboratories. Axioscope is the right choice if your routine inspection tasks place high demands on usability, reproducibility and automation – and you also need advanced optical microscopy for materials analysis and metallography. Being a complete material laboratory solution, Axioscope is also the first choice from an economic point of view.
ZEISS Xradia CrystalCT is your ground-breaking microCT for unlocking the crystallographic and microstructural secrets of your samples. It uniquely augments the powerful technique of computed tomography with the ability to reveal crystallographic grain microstructures, transforming the way polycrystalline materials (such as metals, additive manufacturing, ceramics, etc.) can be studied, leading to newer and deeper insights into materials research.
The instruments of the EVO family combine high performance scanning electron microscopy with an intuitive, user-friendly experience that appeals to both trained microscopists and new users. With its comprehensive range of available options, EVO can be tailored precisely to your requirements, whether you are in material sciences, or routine industrial quality assurance and failure analysis.
Combine imaging and analytical performance of a high resolution field emission scanning electron microscope (FE-SEM) with the processing ability of a next-generation focused ion beam (FIB). You may be working in a multi-user facility, or an academic or industrial lab. Take advantage of ZEISS Crossbeam’s modular platform concept and upgrade your system with growing needs, e.g. with the LaserFIB for massive material ablation. During milling, imaging or when performing 3D analytics Crossbeam will speed up your FIB applications.
Create comprehensive multi-scale, multi-modal images with a sample-centric correlative environment using Atlas 5. This solution extends the capacity of your ZEISS SEM, FE-SEM (field emission scanning electron microscope) or FIB-SEM (focused ion beam). Efficiently navigate and correlate images from any source, e.g. light- and X-ray microscopes. Take full advantage of high throughput and automated large area imaging. Unique workflows help you to gain a comprehensive understanding of your sample. Its modular structure lets you tailor Atlas 5 for your everyday needs in materials research.
ZEISS Advanced Reconstruction Toolbox (ART) introduces Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven reconstruction technologies on your ZEISS Xradia 3D X-ray microscope (XRM) or microCT. A deep understanding of both X-ray physics and applications enable you to solve some of the hardest imaging challenges in new and innovative ways. Discover how speed of data acquisition and reconstruction as well as image quality are enhanced without sacrificing resolution by using OptiRecon, two variants of DeepRecon and PhaseEvolve, the unique modules of ART.
Get in touch with us to learn more about the ZEISS microscopy solutions portfolio for engineering materials research. Get insights on your specific research challenges or facility, book a demo at our customer center, or get a quote. We are looking forward to hearing from you.