APT for atomic-scale insights to the origins of materials properties

Michael Moody, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

Increasingly, across a wide-range of material research problems, further advances in material performance now requires understanding of microstructure at the atomic scale. Atom probe tomography (APT) is a microscopy technique generating images that typically incorporate hundreds of millions of atoms, each of which is chemically identified and precisely located in 3D. Hence APT routinely provides unique insight into 3D chemical distributions within materials at a scale that even the most advanced electron microscopes cannot routinely achieve. Key applications include: investigating atomic-scale solute clustering phenomena, characterising interface chemistry and locating very low concentration additions or impurity elements – all vital information for the development of new engineering materials.

This presentation will highlight three examples where critical nanoscale information provided by APT can be directly correlated to properties to support the further design of material composition and processing and thereby optimise performance. This includes:

  • Hardness of a 17-4 PH steel subject to a range of precipitation hardening treatments
  • Electrical properties of gettered/passivated multi-crystalline silicon
  • Oxidation performance of a series of Ni-based superalloy systematically varying in Ti and Nb content.

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