Improving microstructural quantification in FIB/SEM nanotomography


FIB/SEM nanotomography (FIB-nt) is a powerful technique for the determination and quantification of the three-dimensional microstructure in subsurface features. Often times, the microstructure of a sample is the ultimate determiner of the overall performance of a system, and a detailed understanding of its properties is crucial in advancing the materials engineering of a resulting device. While the FIB-nt technique has developed significantly in the 15 years since its introduction, advanced nanotomographic analysis is still far from routine, and a number of challenges remain in data acquisition and post-processing. In this work, we present a number of techniques to improve the quality of the acquired data, together with easy-to-implement methods to obtain “advanced” microstructural quantifications. The techniques are applied to a solid oxide fuel cell cathode of interest to the electrochemistry community, but the methodologies are easily adaptable to a wide range of material systems. Finally, results from an analyzed sample are presented as a practical example of how these techniques can be implemented.