While chemical analysis to determine the gross composition of a sample is often very useful in materials science and related application, it is common that variations in the microstructure of materials can have as much or more of an impact on properties of interest than the chemistry of the bulk sample. Electron Backscatter diffraction is a powerful technique EMSL employs to investigate down into the sub-micron details about crystalline phases in a solid sample. The intrinsic wave characteristics of an electron beam are utilized to image the faint, destructive interference bands that are created in backscattered electrons in a certain geometry. The images of these interference patterns can be analyzed to determine not only crystal geometry, but orientation on a sub-micron scale. This allows for grain size, orientation, association, and deformation (among other properties) to be mapped and analyzed, in two or three dimensional data sets. This data can often be directly interfaced with property modeling and simulation analysis to gain unprecedented insight for materials properties.
The orientation and association of grains in alloys and metal parts can often have significant impact on strength, magnetic properties, and hardness. Ceramics are diverse and can have radically different properties with different grain sizes, sintering effects, and degrees of crystallinity – including piezoelectric or magnetically active ceramic compounds. Even composites, crystalline polymers, and petrographic analysis all benefit from additional information about the crystalline properties of the bulk material on the micro-scale. EMSL is prepared to assist its customers with analysis on the cutting edge for their complex materials analysis needs, adding EBSD to a complete set of crystallography tools to inform and highlight important properties.