Metals and alloys is a key research topic around most academic materials science programs. Imagine being able to engineer microstructure and thus enhance mechanical, thermal and electrical properties. You will be able to use precise control of the grain size, engineer grain boundaries and precipitates, control the presence of defects such as inclusions or voids. You will achieve remarkable improvements in the properties of traditional metals and alloys and thus create more useful materials.
That is why detailed knowledge over multiple length scales is a prerequisite for metals researchers. Metals and alloys are characterized by features ranging from a macro- over micro- to nanoscales. Think of surface roughness, pits, cracks; grains with their different sizes, crystallographic orientations and morphologies; metals’ and alloys’ texture, twinning, voids, inclusions and precipitates at the 10 – 100 micrometer range; and ultimately nanoscale features such as dislocations, nano-precipitates, lattice defects, crack initiation sites or nano-crystalline grain features. All of them are important to understand – and this requires microscopic characterization techniques which cover all those length scales and seamlessly integrate multi-modal, multi-scale techniques.
With ZEISS Research Microscopy Solutions you are enabled to capture all crucial details that are necessary to understanding metals and alloys and all mechanisms that contribute to strength, toughness and other properties. Take advantage of using light, X-ray and electron microscopes together with software tailored to multi-modal experiments. Make the most of correlative approaches. Combine information gathered from various modalities at different length scales and acquire comprehensive information for a given material system.
In the image below, click on the blue dots to enlarge each application image.
Effectively characterize material at the macroscale and gain insights related to geometric defects, surface roughness, cracks, voids and inclusions. Use a combination of ZEISS light and X-ray microscopes (XRM). While light microscopy provides rapid information from the surface over a wide area, X-ray methods enable peering into the sub-surface non-destructively and deliver three-dimensional information on complex microstructural features. Generate a deep understanding of metals samples using light microscopy contrasts including brightfield, darkfield and polarization.
Capture the microstructural information in 3D in a single snapshot with ZEISS XRMs.
- Investigate new-age manufacturing methods, more precisely 3D printing materials, where structural parts with an ever-increasing structural complexity are being produced.
- Characterize specimens in 3D at the nanoscale and benefit from XRMs providing you with information on nanoprecipitates or eutectic microstructures.
- Unlock crystallographic secrets. Non-destructive 3D crystallographic grain characterization is possible with advances in diﬀraction contrast tomography delivering information on grain size, crystallographic orientation and morphology.
Light microscopy image of a pure magnesium sample using polarization contrast shows the structural anisotropy.
Polarization contrast light microscopy image from a Barker etched anodized AlNi3.5 sample.
Ferrite and pearlte phase in steel imaged using light microsopy and quantitatively analyzed.
Location of a single profile across root of autogenous TIG weld in corrosion-resistant nickel alloy (Hastelloy® C-276).
Laser polished surface of stainless steel test piece. 3D view of color-coded height map shows surface texture of areas with different process parameter.
Non-destructive 3D rendering of crack networks formed due to corrosion fatigue in the shank section of a load bearing steel bolt.
3D grain map of an Al-Cu sample with gauge section dimension of (length) 1.25 mm, (width) 1.0 mm and (thickness) 0.5 mm. Sample scanned using helical phyllotaxis HART. Sample courtesy of Prof. Masakazu Kobayashi, Toyohashi University of Technology, Japan.
3D volumetric rendering of sintered CoCr particles. The consolidated bulk after sintering and portions of unsintered powder can be observed.
3D rendering of a reconstructed nanoscale X-ray tomography dataset obtained from a Zn-Mg spiral eutectic sample.
Think of the possibilities it would open if you found a solution to characterize materials from micro- to nanometer with one instrument. You would be able to set up a workﬂow for root cause analysis enabling you to study the relationship between microstructure and fracture resistance or understand structural failures of critical parts. You could determine fracture modes and analyze crack propagation. What if you could analyze the chemical composition of precipitates and inclusions in detail over multiple length scales; describe grain characteristics including size, crystal orientation, shape, boundaries, and phase distribution; understand deformation behavior of metals and alloys? And, ﬁnally, modify the materials processing route and chemistries and ﬁne tune their properties and performance? In fact, scanning electron microscopes (SEM) and their accessories have become an integral part of the materials characterization workﬂow. To many researchers the SEM is the go-to instrument, the “Swiss-knife“.
Investigate grains, inclusions or precipitates, gain essential information on morphology and qualitative and quantitative chemical composition of metals and alloys, and understand their fracture properties.
- Energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopes (EDS) enable you to understand chemical makeup and elemental distributions.
- Measure grain size and shape, crystallographic orientation, texture, and grain boundary character distribution over scales from a few micrometers down to 10 nm using electron backscattered diﬀraction (EBSD).
- Use electron channeling along crystal planes and apply electron channeling contrast imaging (ECCI) letting you observe and quantify lattice defects directly.
- Identify dislocations and stacking faults within grains and describe their location with respect to grain boundaries and orientations.
- Combine ECCI with in situ deformation or heating experiments of metal samples to observe the formation of dislocation networks under the inﬂuence of mechanical loads.
Combine a variety of imaging modalities with analytical capabilities using an SEM. Readily obtain critical information on the topography and morphology, on micro- and nanostructure, on the chemical makeup, crystallographic and phase identiﬁcation. Easily discern crystal defects, orientations, and sub-grain information such as twinning and slip band formations. Use a highly sophisticated electron optical column designed for high resolution, surface sensitive imaging and capable of performing powerful analytics.
- For the characterization of surface fractures at micro- and nanoscales take advantage of gaining unique information from secondary and backscatter electron detectors that deliver exceptional topographical and compositional contrasts.
- Expand the imaging capabilities of your SEM with an in situ lab: link microstructure to performance and observe metals during deformation and heating.
Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) delivers extremely high contrasts of crystal orientations and defects in the high temperature alloy TiAl₂.
Advanced alloy material 3kV HV mode. This advanced alloy material reveals a tungsten core material surrounded by a steel matrix when imaged with Inlens SE detector at low voltage.
Metal fracture acquired with ZEISS Sigma, Inlens SE detector, field of view 125µm.
Tensile testing of irradiation effects on the mechanical behavior of pure nickel. A. Reichardt et al. / Acta Materialia 100 (2015) 147–154.
High resolution surface characterization of metal powders. Scanning electron microscopy image of stellite powder for additive manufacturing.
Investigating metals and alloys down to the level of individual atomic arrangements while keeping the full context over a scale of millimeters is critical. Only the combination of both, overview over millimeter- and detailed insight into micro- or nanometer-scaled areas, enables you to understand the linkage between structure and properties. This is the point where it becomes necessary to add the meso-scale to your workﬂow. When you seek to understand properties at the nanoscale, when you want to prepare minute devices like atom probe tips or ultra-thin TEM lamellae, when it is your objective to precisely target a unique void, a precipitate located along a certain grain boundary, or the region around a crack tip you will need a precision tool that is tailored for advanced imaging and sample manipulation. Site-speciﬁc characterization below the surface plus fast and precise material removal combined with high resolution imaging and a seamless workﬂow is what you need.
ZEISS FIB-SEMs (focused ion beam scanning electron microscopes) unite the high resolution imaging ability of an SEM with the ability to prepare samples.
- Perform precise serial milling or sectioning to reveal the sub-surface features or produce 3D nanotomography datasets.
- Access the meso-scale regime by equipping your ZEISS FIB-SEM with a device tailored for massive material ablation or for the preparation of extremely large sections, a femto-second laser.
- Combining this LaserFIB from ZEISS with EDS or EBSD, allows for 3D multi-modal nanotomography, giving you the best of sample preparation at high throughput, and advanced imaging and analytics – an extremely powerful combination for the investigation of grains, precipitates, fractures, corrosion, or thermal and electrical properties.
Laser prepared cube in a tungsten carbide cobalt hard metal sample (WCoC). The cube has side walls of 180 µm length and is 120 µm tall. Laser machining time 85 s. FOV 696 µm. ZEISS Crossbeam 350 laser, SESI detector, 5 kV.
Laser polished sample surfaces produce satisfactory EBSD grain maps without the need for Ga-FIB polishing steps in cases where a quick overview of a large area of the sample is suﬃcient.
Multi-site lamella preparation of a 3 x 2 array of laser- machined chunks followed by FIB millingfor precise thinning to produce a < 2 µm TEM lamella.
High resolution serial section FIB-SEM tomography (8 nm/voxel) from a correlative microscopy experiment to study the process of intergranular corrosion observed in a magnesium alloy. Sample courtesy of the University of Manchester.
3D FIB-SEM tomography data on the precipitate distribution in aluminum 7075 alloy. The 3D data provides quantitative information on the spatial distribution of precipitates with respect to the grain boundaries. Sample courtesy of Prof. N. Chawla, Purdue University.
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.
ZEISS GeminiSEM stands for effortless imaging with sub-nanometer resolution. Innovations in electron optics and a new chamber design let you benefit from better image quality, usability and flexibility. Combine excellence in imaging and analytics. Perform versatile materials characterization at sub-nm resolution, with superior contrast and sharpness. Advance your metallography and fracture analysis and perform in situ material characterization under varying conditions.
Your instrument for massive material ablation and preparation of large samples - the femtosecond laser on the airlock enhances in situ studies, avoids chamber contamination and is conﬁgurable as Crossbeam 350 and 550. Gain rapid access to deeply buried structures or prepare extremely demanding structures e.g. atom probe samples. With ZEISS Crossbeam you are using a FIB-SEM tailored for high throughput 3D analysis and sample preparation that enables you to speed up ion beam milling or material removal for nano-tomography. Experience best 3D resolution in your FIB-SEM runs.
Create comprehensive multi-scale, multi-modal images with a sample-centric correlative environment using ZEISS Atlas 5. This solution extends the capacity of your ZEISS SEM, FE-SEM or FIB-SEM. 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.