Dr. Patrick Camus, Director of Research and Innovation, EDAX
It is well known that the physical properties of objects depend highly on their 3D structure. Recording and displaying the 3D structure is a fairly recent phenomenon. In the past, most analyses were limited by recordings using film or only the surface of the object. The advent of modern technology and computing power has made 3D rendering more widespread. A number of modern techniques can acquire numerous image slices which can be rendered via software into 3D images. These can then be manipulated in time and space for a more accurate interpretation in a shorter time than could be obtained by viewing the series of slices.
A familiar example is that of a CAT scan of a human head. A series of X-ray slice images are acquired showing the density within the skull. A range of image intensities can be extracted into outlines. These outlines can then be viewed on a computer screen. However, they are difficult to interpret because they are still only a series of outlines. The real power for interpretation occurs when triangulation or surfaces are used to connect the outlines into meaningful 3D renderings.
Similar sectioning ideas have been applied to electron-beam microanalysis techniques. But the benefits to the analysts really become evident when the software contains features to aid in both the image and compositional interpretation of the objects.
Our mission at EDAX is to advance the understanding of materials for the benefit of science and society worldwide. As Director of Sales and Marketing, my aim is to accomplish this by marrying a deep understanding of market needs with advanced technology to solve our customers’ material science problems at the nanoscale. Once our technical team demonstrates a promising new technology, our job is to commercialize these technologies to bring the most advanced products to market whether it be in telecommunications, information technology, biomedical, energy or aerospace and automotive. This blog will explore just a few markets and the new technologies we are working on to bring the next generation of cost effective solutions to our customers, so that they can produce products that make everyone’s life a little better.
Both consumer demands and legislative requirements are compelling automotive manufacturers to develop more fuel-efficient vehicles. A primary method of improving automotive mileage performance is to reduce vehicle weight. Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS) and crystallographic structure via Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD) enable users to better understand material microstructure and control material properties. Analysis of microstructure is important for optimizing joining parameters in order to provide a consistent quality final result. Information from these techniques includes: crystal orientation, phase content and distribution, grain size and shape, grain boundary character and plastic strain distribution.
Oil and gas
Several emerging microanalysis technologies will be very useful for oil and gas exploration and operation. It is important to understand the microstructure of shale and sandstone in reservoirs which contain trapped oil and gas. Information on porosity and permeability can be generated using high speed, 3D EBSD synchronized with multiple EDS detectors for chemical analysis and Large Area Mapping. Throughput of the combination of EDS and EBSD enables fast, affordable analysis of important factors that drive yield and extraction costs in reservoirs. Another technique that helps increase speed of analysis by quickly focusing in specific areas of interest is a new product EDAX offers called Pattern Region of Interest Analysis System (PRIAS). PRIAS is a new “virtual Forward Scatter Detector” with software that enables rapid pattern collection (~1500fps) prior to performing a full OIM scan. EDAX is also exploring development of an easy and affordable Wavelength Dispersive Spectroscopy (WDS) based technique to help analyze the clay and ground soil looking for trace elements that have a big impact on the ability to extract gas from the ground.
Perhaps the semiconductor industry is the most reliant on advanced microanalysis solutions to keep driving Moore’s law where low cost manufacturing at the nanoscale is required. Recently, commercialization of large area, windowless EDS detectors has enabled improved X-ray detection sensitivity, which is indispensable for high quality elemental mapping at atomic resolution. These detectors are excellent for measuring trace elements required for failure analysis and new product development. We are now testing the use of dual detectors to provide useful tomography information. Also, the EBSD technique is useful for grain structure and boundary analysis of TSV to minimize the applied stress in order to improve reliability and optimize manufacturing processes for 3D integrated circuits. Particle analysis is another application used extensively in semiconductor and the related field of hard disk drive read/write head manufacturing. Three dimensional imaging is very useful for particle analysis and EDAX is continually working on ways to bring more physical and chemical quantification of the materials in the region of interest.
A summary of markets, applications, market drivers and microanalysis solutions is presented below.