Quantitative EBSD Studies of Soft Magnetic Composites with ZEISS Sigma 300
Microscopy Solutions for alloy research and development

Advancing Analysis for Complex New Alloys

Achieve Fast Large Volume 3D Imaging and Microstructural Analysis

Development of new alloys and improvement of existing ones, as well as understanding their fundamental properties and behavior have been key topics of research for several decades. There are ever increasing demands from industrial sectors – aerospace, power, transportation, infrastructure, automotive – for alloys with better properties at lower costs. Alloy research and development requires advanced analytics to assess the microstructure and performance of these alloys using a variety of techniques both in-situ and ex-situ

  • High resolution scanning electron microscopy to resolve the smallest precipitates, intermetallics, oxide dispersions and other nanoscale features
  • Advanced machine learning for data segmentation in 2D and 3D
  • Multiscale 3D tomography to connect data across multiple lengthscales
  • X-ray microscopy for 3D mapping of samples and sub-surface features, both in-situ and ex-situ
High temperature corrosion and thinning in a failed pipe, taken  with C2D detector on SIGMA 300 at 50Pa variable pressure

High temperature corrosion and thinning in a failed pipe, taken with C2D detector on SIGMA 300 at 50Pa variable pressure

Impact of Corrosion and Causes of Failure on a Metal Structure

No system is immune to failure, corrosion, or other degradation. Whether it is rapid or gradual, planned or unexpected, there is always the possibility of failure during production, manufacturing, or service. The consequences can range from minor inconvenience to catastrophic loss of lives. Rigorous quality controls, validated production methods and in-service inspection can all reduce the probability of failure, as well as detailed investigation of all failures to establish the root cause and take appropriate corrective future actions.

The largest failures can result from small deviations or deviations during manufacturing - pores, inclusions, cracks, residual stress, or even small inhomogeneities in the microstructure. Failure may also be a result of operation outside of normal service conditions, sudden unexpected events, or part of planned obsolescence.

Cracking in carbon steel due to fatigue in a corrosive environment, taken with backscattered electron imaging (BSE), SIGMA 300.

Cracking in carbon steel due to fatigue in a corrosive environment, taken with backscattered electron imaging (BSE), SIGMA 300.

Microscopy is a key tool in both failure analysis and corrosion assessment, with all of the below techniques and more being used to determine the extent, mechanism, and features of corrosion as well as determine the root cause of failure.

  • Light microscopy
  • Electron microscopy
  • Confocal light microscopy
  • EDS
  • EBSD
  • Raman spectroscopy
  • X-ray computed tomography
  • X-ray microscopy

ZEISS software allows easy correlation between multiple data sets taken on different microscopes, showing all of the features in context and aiding the investigator in building a full and complete understanding of sudden failure or gradual degradation over time.

A poor weld with numerous defects, taken with Xradia 620 Versa

Submicron 3D imaging of Metals And Alloys​

The properties of metals and alloys are controlled by their microstructure at all points along the production process - from casting, forging, extrusion through to machining, welding, fabrication and service. Material microstructures are three-dimensional, and may not be uniform in all directions, and may contain pores, voids, cracks, different phases and other geometric features. High resolution scanning is necessary, with full 3D mapping and computed tomography of all sub-surface features and density variations.

Standard X-ray computed tomography (CT) is limited to small sample sizes when imaging at high resolution; due to the geometric nature of magnification. Maintaining high resolution (400nm) for larger samples is possible due to the longer working distance required. The ZEISS Xradia 600 series Versa X-ray microscopes integrate dual-stage magnification architecture with high flux X-ray source technology - enabling faster non-destructive scans, more sample runs, higher contrast to noise as well as greatly improved resolution at a distance compared to standard CT systems, even of large samples.

This capability is further enhanced by LabDCT (Diffraction Contrast Tomography) enabling non-destructive mapping of grain crystallographic orientation and microstructure in 3D. This opens up a new dimension in the characterization of metal alloys and polycrystalline materials. It is even possible to investigate microstructural evolution with 4D imaging experiments.


    • Microscopy in Metal Failure Investigations

      Determine the root cause of metal failure and learn about microscopy tool set for any metal failure investigation

      File size: 4 MB

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