Atom probe tomography (APT) is an analytical technique that provides three-dimensional chemical maps of atomic species in metals, ceramics, semiconductors and composites at sub-nanometre resolution. Our clients in the USA and across the world can have this test done using the vast network of testing labs from Infinita Lab, USA.... Read More
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Atom Probe Tomography
Atom probe tomography (APT) is an analytical technique that can provide images of individual atoms in a sample and enable their positions to be mapped, at nanoscale, in a three-dimensional spatial coordinate system.
The APT test specimen is prepared in the shape of a needle with a sharp conical tip of sub-micron diameter, cryogenically cooled and subjected to a strong electric field of several kilovolts in ultra-high vacuum. While the base voltage is DC voltage a pulsed voltage (for conductive samples) or pulsed laser (for semiconducting and insulating samples) enhances the applied energy. The high electric field at the sharp tip results in evaporation of atoms (as cations) from that location, a process termed field evaporation. The identity of ionic species is determined by time-of-flight Mass Spectrometry, while their original spatial coordinates are inferred using a position sensitive detector, coupled to a digital processing system. The spatial resolution for semiconductor specimens is about 1 nm while for metals it is possible to obtain resolutions of 0.3 nm in depth and 0.5 nm laterally. Depending on the conductivity of the specimen, the applied electric field may also be of voltage-pulse mode or laser assisted mode.
The ability to visualise spatial atom distributions at nano-scales and to distinguish between chemical species, has made APT a valuable analytical tool in the Materials science and semi-conductor industry. New applications of APT have been found in the geological field.
Common Uses of Atom Probe Tomography (APT)
3D Chemical mapping of materials at nano-scale
Dopant Identification and quantification in semiconductors
Crystal lattice and grain boundary studies
Study of nanoscale exsolution or heterogeneous inclusions in crystalline materials
Advantages of Atom Probe Tomography (APT)
All elements including isotopes can be identified
Cluster formation and compositional variations can be analysed at nano-scale
Limitations of Atom Probe Tomography (APT)
Challenges exist for low conductivity and insulating materials
Specimen has to be in the form of sharp tip and this may influence evaporation behaviour thereby distorting the 3D
Complex sample preparation
Small sample volumes
Ion overlap in some samples may result in analytical challenges.
Maintaining Ultra high vacuum to ensure residual Low molecular weight gases (Hydrogen & Helium) do not interfere.
Industrial Applications of Atom Probe Tomography (APT)
ASTM E572 test method covers the analysis of stainless and alloy steels by Wavelength Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry (WDXRF). It provides rapid, multi-element determinations with sufficient accuracy to assure product quality.
The ASTM D2674 is a standard test method for the analysis of sulfochromate etches solution used in the surface preparation of aluminum. The ASTM D2674 standard specifies a method for determining the efficacy of an etchant used to prepare the surface of aluminum alloys for subsequent adhesive bonding.
An immunological method for quantization of Hevea Natural Rubber (HNRL) proteins using rabbit anti-HNRL serum. Rabbits immunized with HNRL proteins react to the majority of the proteins present, and their sera have the capability to detect most if not all the proteins in HNRL.
ASTM G65 measures the resistance of metallic materials to abrasion using the dry sand/rubber wheel apparatus. The quality, durability, and toughness of the sample are determined using this test. Metallic materials are ranked in their resistance to scratching abrasion under a controlled environment.
ASTM E2141 test methods provide accelerated aging and monitoring of the performance of time-dependent electrochromic devices (ECD) integrated in insulating glass units (IGU). This test helps to understand the relative serviceability of electrochromic glazings applied on ECD.
ASTM C724 test method is used in analyzing the quality and ease of maintenance of a ceramic decoration on architectural-type glass. This test method is useful in the acknowledgment of technical standards.
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