Late Night(s) with EBSD

Matt Nowell, EBSD Product Manager, EDAX

While it is easy to imagine late nights running EBSD scans, and I have pulled a few all-nighters over the years for special projects, the improvements in acquisition speeds and software have mostly eliminated the need for this for me. The title of this blog references back to my time in college when one of my favorite shows was Late Night with David Letterman. One of my favorite parts of this program was the famous and funny top ten lists, which I was thinking about while working on a more recent late-night project.

As a product manager, I am always trying to understand the EBSD market, as well as predict and prepare for what is coming next. One method I use is to analyze the keywords within EBSD publications. There has been an exponential increase in the number of EBSD papers each year. Figure 1 shows the distribution using EBSD as a keyword for searching ScienceDirect.

Figure 1. EBSD publications by year.

Figure 1. EBSD publications by year.

Using my modest programming skills, I extracted the keywords from the abstracts from these papers. I then performed a frequency analysis of these terms and classified them into material, application, and topic categories. I also had to identify synonyms. For example, additive manufacturing and 3D printing should be counted together. When completed, I was able to compile the top 10 lists for my different categories. In some cases, the results were what I expected, but there were some surprises. Figure 2 shows a word cloud, where the size of the word is proportional to the frequency of occurrence.

Figure 2. Word cloud based on the frequency of EBSD keywords.

During this process, I found many interesting papers I wanted to read. With 4,500+ publications in 2020, I know I cannot read them all. Even with the ones I did read, I found myself missing presentations. With the shift towards virtual conferences due to the pandemic, I can listen to talks at the recent ICOTOM and TMS meetings. When I read a paper, I bring my perspective, but when I hear a presentation, I understand the presenter’s perspective, and they know more about this material than I do. EDAX hosts several webinars each year, and recently we invited customers to present their research and results. A couple of weeks ago, Dr. Eric Payton from the Air Force Research Laboratory gave a webinar that tied making a toaster to President Herbert Hoover. then to robotic vacuum cleaners, and finally to artisanal alloys. It was a very interesting and engaging presentation and can be viewed on-demand from the EDAX website. I also look forward to the next webinar on May 27th when Dr. David Rowenhorst from the Naval Research Lab will present on 3D EBSD to investigate the microstructures of additively manufactured materials.

I also use social media to track trends for EBSD. Twitter has an active scientific community, and I follow many scientists who share their research online. This has led to opportunities to meet many of these people in person over the years. Coming from the commercial side, I will admit that I sometimes feel like an outsider, and I am a little hesitant at times to chime in on a discussion. I often find interesting work and share tweets with my colleagues. I recently found an article featuring EBSD maps from additively manufactured materials (yes, additive is pretty large in the word cloud) on Gizmodo ( I shared this on social media platforms, both professionally and personally. I even reached out to Jake Benzing at NIST to compliment the wonderful results. I really enjoy being able to connect with our users, and see what they do with our tools to further their work.

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