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UCLA user facility offers new materials characterization tool for electron microscopy

Quantax electron backscatter diffraction analysis system for investigating crystal structure now available at the Materials Structure Characterization Laboratory

The ability to identify the orientation and phase of a sample’s crystal structure can provide vital information for researchers designing, fabricating and testing new materials. UCLA’s Materials Structure Characterization Laboratory (MSCL) opens that capability through the addition of an electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) system.

The Bruker Quantax EBSD is the only system that enables the scanning electron microscope (SEM) to perform nanoscale orientation mapping with on-axis transmission Kikuchi diffraction. In combination with the Nova 230 SEM by ThermoFisher, investigators can achieve spatial resolution between 20 and 50 nm, and down to 10 nm in transmission mode.

Made possible by a grant from the NATO Science for Peace and Security Program, the Quantax EBSD system supports all crystal symmetries. Acquisition speeds of hundreds of frames per second and real-time data interpretation mean that large EBSD maps can be generated quickly, including the following:

  • orientation distribution mapping
  • phase distribution mapping
  • inverse pole figure mapping with color-coded crystallographic descriptions of reference directions
  • Schmid factor mapping showing the alignment of slip systems with a defined reference direction
  • local misorientation mapping that visualizes strain at grain boundaries

Users can also drill down to details about grain size and shape thanks to grain detection using misorientation and size criteria, while the eFlash FS detector provides improved sensitivity with lower functioning temperatures.

Ease of use is another key factor with the Quantax EBSD. Its intuitive interface provides researchers access to all data points and post-processing results, enabling the review of point data, histograms and texture representation to ensure data quality both during and after measurement.

The MSCL, operating under the direction of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, is a partner facility of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA that offers access to researchers on campus, those based at other academic institutions, non-profits and government labs as well as from local industry.

For general information about the Quantax EBSD, project consultation and proof of concept, or training and assistance, contact Sergey Prikhodko, director of the MSCL, at sergey@seas.ucla.edu.