Insights from M&M 2019

Observations from a ZEISS executive leader on one of the largest microscopy conferences in the world

The annual Microscopy & Microanalysis (M&M) conference was recently held in Portland, Oregon, USA. ZEISS is one of the largest sponsors and exhibitors at this meeting for the Microscopy Society of America that is dedicated to the promotion and advancement of techniques and applications of microscopy and microanalysis in all relevant scientific disciplines.

Allister McBride, Senior Director at ZEISS, at M&M 2019

In attendance was Allister McBride, a senior director at ZEISS who is responsible for materials research strategy. This includes understanding new trends in the market, translating those into customer needs, and working with R&D to create innovative solutions. Allister provided the following commentary on what he felt were some of the more interesting new trends and topics at this year’s M&M.

Overarching themes observed at M&M

This year’s M&M conference really impressed with the quality of the conference talks. This was clearly visible as many of the conference rooms were standing room only. The conference themes this year have moved away from discussing incremental instrumentation hardware improvements and were much more related to direct megatrends such as batteries, additive manufacturing and advanced material characterization. Many of the presentations discussed API driven automated experiments across the microscopy spectrum involving in situ rigs or 3D/4D analytical techniques.

4D analytics using LabDCT analysis of sintered copper particles representing the development of grain boundaries with heating. This data was taken from S.A. McDonald et al., Scientific Reports 7, 5251 (2017) and presented as an example in P13.1 ‘Advanced Characterization of Components Fabricated by Additive Manufacturing’

Multidimensional and multimodal characterization

There was a definite theme of performing multidimensional and multimodal characterization using different modalities. For examples, work done in talk 616 “Nondestructive 3D Nanoscale X-Ray Imaging of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells in the Laboratory” from the Colorado School of Mines and talk 617 “High Resolution 3D and 4D Characterization of Microstructure Formation in Novel Ti Alloys for Additive Manufacturing” from RWTH Aachen gave excellent examples of how this technique is used across two megatrend topics of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) and additive manufacturing research, respectively. In line with the theme of multimodal analysis, ZEISS took the opportunity to provide an update on its Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) developments using neon ions as the secondary ion source.

SIMS image of a BAM L200 reference sample. (a) Total ion count (TIC). (b) Composite image of aluminum (red) and gallium (green). (c) Line profile of aluminum layers with corresponding SIMS map and schematic layout of the sample. The lines with a distance of 17.5 nm are resolved.

It really is a fantastic technology which is now enabling spatial resolutions of 15 nm as shown by the University of Cambridge in the poster “Analytics on the FIB: ORION-SIMS and the Discovery of a Unique, Chondrite-like, Precambrian Impactor.”

Combining multidimensional imaging with machine-based learning

Examples combining multidimensional characterization in a correlative manner were also demonstrated and this, combined with advanced segmentation techniques (EG. Session A02.1 – Data Acquisition Schemes, Machine Learning Algorithms, and Open Source Software Development for Electron Microscopy), produced some interesting results which could not have been achieved without the combination of multiscale, multidimensional correlated imaging combined with machine learning based multichannel segmentation. This has recently become a hot topic as the power of machine learning to simultaneously segment datasets of various origins across length and dimensional scales is finding relevance in many diverse fields (e.g. A05.7-806 – “Projecting into the Third Dimension: 3D Ore Mineralogy via Machine Learning of Automated Mineralogy and X-Ray Microscopy”).

X-ray microscopy

X-ray microscopy was also a large theme across the board which shows that the conference itself has grown much broader than its initial roots in scanning electron microscopy. It was really fascinating to see how the resolution of this technique is increasing with a great example showing spirals forming from eutectic solidification in work by the University of Michigan (A05.4-336 – “Formation of Faceted Spirals during Directional Eutectic Solidification”) at ~50 nm resolution.

Overall, the depth and breadth of topics covered resonated extremely well with technology investments that ZEISS has made over the past several years and it was great to see customers using these capabilities in new and interesting ways.

A great example of this was talk A10.P2-1167 – “A Fast and Accurate Workflow for Analytic 3D FIBSEM Tomography” which was a collaborative talk between ZEISS and The University of Plymouth using the ZEISS Crossbeam FIB-SEM.

ZEISS Crossbeam in use in the ZEISS booth at M&M 2019
  • Read more about the new capabilities of ZEISS Crossbeam featured at M&M 2019.

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What do Metallographers Actually Do?

The microscope as the most important tool

Metallography is a field of material science and literally means “metal description”. It was invented at the Lette Verein Berlin over 110 years ago, where it can still be learned today.

Develop new materials and make existing ones safer

Metallographers establish, for example, which material is right to build stable bridges or which metal is needed to construct motorcycles safely.

They mainly deal with the microstructure of materials and contribute to quality assurance. This also includes mechanical-technological and non-destructive material testing, material development, and research of high-quality materials as well as damage analysis. They are employed in the testing laboratories of industry, such as the automotive, aircraft, railway, micro-electronics, mechanical and turbine engineering industries, as well as in private and public research institutions. These include, for example, the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, the Helmholtz Institute, the Fraunhofer Society, the Max Planck Institute, as well as universities and colleges.

The profession of metallographer is very interesting. You can help to develop new materials and make existing ones safer.

Toni Vegaz Nguyen, who himself trained as a metallographer at the Lette Verein Berlin

Microscopes in metallography

Many metallographic analysis methods are defined according to international norms and standards. This applies, for example, to the determination of non-metallic inclusions (NMI) in steel or the determination of grain sizes and phases. A microscope system equipped with appropriate software modules enables precise and automated analysis of these parameters.

We use high-quality microscopes in training, many of them are from ZEISS. This is the only way we can ensure that the best possible graduates enter the job market. In addition to individual support, our students also appreciate the modern facilities at the Lette Verein Berlin, so training is fun.

Gundula Jeschke, head of the department for metallography and materials testing at the Lette Verein Berlin

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Efficient Microstructure Characterization of Metals Using Light Microscopy

Your questions answered

A material’s properties are strongly linked to its microstructure, such as grain size, porosity, phase and non-metallic inclusions. Light microscopy is a powerful tool for evaluating a material’s microstructure, but extracting meaningful results using traditional image analysis can be challenging, especially for new materials or materials with multiple phases. For instance, magnetic materials being developed for use in electric motors consist of complex structures. Segmentation of these structures in different phases can prove difficult with traditional image analysis techniques.

High Temperature Corrosion Scale on 9% Chromium Steel. Left side (background): Brightfield image; Right side (foreground): individual layers segmented with machine learning.

In a recent SelectScience® webinar, Tim Schubert, materials scientists at the Materials Research Institute Aalen (IMFAA), Aalen University, and Torben Wulff, solutions manager light microscopy at ZEISS Research Microscopy Solutions, introduce a new comprehensive solution for microstructure analysis and present standardized techniques for metallography investigation.

Watch the webinar on demand by registering here

Discover Q&A highlights from the live event

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Introducing a New X-Ray Micro-Computed Tomography (microCT) System

ZEISS Xradia Context microCT offers full context, large field of view, and high throughput imaging

In recent years ZEISS redefined the way to perform 3D X-ray tomography measurements in the laboratory with the breakthrough ZEISS Xradia Versa and Xradia Ultra product families.  By incorporating synchrotron-inspired optics and acquisition methodologies, these X-ray microscopes (XRM) surpassed many of the traditional barriers limiting lab-based computed tomography, offering performance comparable to beamline instruments.

ZEISS has now expanded its portfolio of lab X-ray imaging instruments with a new micro-computed tomography (microCT) system: ZEISS Xradia Context microCT will expand the offering with full context, large field of view, and high throughput imaging, while ZEISS Xradia Versa and Xradia Ultra X-ray microscopes will continue to address challenging 3D imaging problems, particularly when high-resolution needs are paramount. ZEISS Xradia Context microCT will enable users to image objects both large and small, addressing the broad range of computed tomography applications with a foundation built on the high performance and high data quality for which ZEISS Xradia has become known.

With a robust stage and flexible software controlled source/detector positioning, you can image large, heavy (25 kg), and tall samples in their full 3D context, or maximize geometric magnification with small samples for sub-micron resolution. A high pixel density detector (six megapixels) enables you to resolve fine detail even within relatively large imaging volumes (up to 140 x 165 mm field of view with stitching). Users benefit from:

  • Rapid sample mounting and alignment and a streamlined acquisition workflow thanks to the user-friendly Scout-and-Scan control system
  • Fast exposure and data reconstruction times, including automated reconstruction
  • An optional autoloader for automated handling and sequential scanning of up to 14 samples
  • In situ options to perform 4D experiments
  • Proven usability and image quality – based on same platform as well-regarded ZEISS Xradia Versa series, including a selection of high purity X-ray filters and advanced acquisition control algorithms for optimized stability
ZEISS Xradia Context microCT offers full context, large field of view, and high throughput imaging

Serving a wide range of applications

ZEISS Xradia Context microCT serves a variety of applications spanning across academic research to industrial inspection and process development:

  • Obtain full context and non-destructive 3D data of large intact devices, like functioning batteries and electronic components, large raw materials samples such as whole cores and biological specimens.
  • Characterize porosity, cracks, or other details in structural and raw materials including heterogeneous rock types, additive manufactured parts, composites, protective coatings, concrete, or mineralized tissue.
  • Explore a wide variety of life science samples from single bones to whole organisms for non-destructive examination of internal structure and localization of regions for further imaging or analysis.
  • Perform 4D evolutionary studies, through ex situ treatment or in situ sample manipulation, to understand phenomena like corrosion, material deformation, fluid flow, or electrochemical cycling.

Ready to grow with your needs

Reviewing the development of laboratory X-ray technology, ZEISS broke through the traditional barriers existing in the lab X-ray imaging market with the ZEISS Xradia Versa and Xradia Ultra XRM product lines. ZEISS Xradia Ultra created an entirely unique operating space with spatial resolution down to 50 nm, offering researchers the chance to examine interior structures that were previously accessible only with destructive serial sectioning methods coupled with electron microscopy.  With ZEISS Xradia Versa, new Resolution at a Distance (RaaD) technology opened the door for maintaining high resolution, sub-micron imaging conditions even at larger source to sample working distances, greatly expanding the operating space for high performance data acquisition on large samples, within demanding in situ environments, or with advanced imaging modalities like phase contrast or diffraction contrast tomography.

Today, ZEISS continues to extend the capabilities of its X-ray imaging products in the field with newly offered functionality, modules, and upgrade options to meet your evolving needs.  ZEISS Xradia Context now joins this family and inherits this same commitment to extendibility that ensures your initial investment will be protected well into the future. As high performance needs arise, ZEISS Xradia Context is the only microCT that can be converted in the field to a ZEISS Xradia Versa X-ray microscope, gaining full access to the high performance and advanced functionality for which the ZEISS Versa series has become well-regarded.

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Much More Than Simply a Combination of Microscopes

Understanding correlative microscopy

Correlative microscopy is not a single technique, rather a combination of software, technology, and data. It provides streamlined easy-to-use workflows, delivers unique insights into the sample, and lets you acquire more data in less time. 

Watch this video to understand correlative microscopy in under two minutes: 

The challenge

Day after day, researchers, lab technicians, and quality engineers examine numerous specimens in labs all over the world. In each examination, they need to identify a representative region and be able to navigate within the sample at different microscopes: light, electron, ion, X-ray and many more. Next, they need to combine and adjust all the data acquired to get a detailed understanding of the specimen. And then comes the task of overlaying images.

More information about the sample from micro to nano scale

By applying several microscopy techniques to a single sample, microscopists can study it at a much broader range of magnifications than possible with a single technique. Not only does this allow them to conduct an initial low-magnification inspection of a sample to identify specific regions of interest for closer study, but it also generates a much greater range of information about the samples at different scales.

Less time and effort spent on data acquisition

Correlative microscopy from ZEISS provides integrated solutions and seamless workflows.

  • Gain unique insights into your sample
  • Move seamlessly from the micro to nano scale
  • Acquire more data in less time with streamlined workflows
  • Benefit from powerful image and data correlation handling
  • Acquire, handle, and analyze data from 2D to 4D
  • Use correlative coverslips and holders for precise and efficient work

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New Generation of ZEISS EVO Scanning Electron Microscope Introduced

Modular platform for intuitive operation, routine investigations and research applications

ZEISS presents the new generation of its proven high performance scanning electron microscope (SEM): The new instruments of the ZEISS EVO family come with a variety of improvements regarding usability, image quality and seamless integration into multimodal workflows. With its comprehensive range of available options, the ZEISS EVO family can be tailored precisely to requirements in life sciences, material sciences, or routine industrial quality assurance.

ZEISS EVO delivers best-in-class, high quality data – even with difficult requirements, e.g. if non-conductive parts need to remain unaltered to move from instrument to instrument in the course of an investigation in industrial quality assurance, or if samples need to be imaged in their natural hydrated state, e.g. for pollen classification. For these requirements, ZEISS EVO offers various vacuum modes, such as high vacuum, variable pressure and high pressure, as well as different detector technologies (SE, C2D, C2DX, BSE, EDS). An optional lanthanum hexaboride (LaB6) emitter delivers more beam brightness for superior image resolution and noise reduction.

The intuitive, user-friendly experience of ZEISS EVO appeals to both trained microscopists and new users. ZEISS SmartSEM Touch is the highly simplified user interface developed specifically for the occasional operator who has very limited or no knowledge of operating an SEM, e.g. in central microscopy facilities or industrial quality assurance laboratories. “The new ZEISS SmartSEM Touch user interface of ZEISS EVO is so easy to learn – not only experienced microscopists, but also our engineers and interns who are not SEM experts are up to speed in 20 minutes. We really benefit from the system’s imaging and analytical capability. Its seamless integration into multi-modal workflows makes our life a lot more efficient”, says Jim Suth, Quality Manager at ECR Engines. The US-based high-performance engine production, research and development company uses ZEISS EVO for materials characterization and failure analysis.

In many environments, whether academic or industrial, SEM material characterization is part of a workflow whereby samples are subjected to other imaging or analytical techniques, such as light microscopes or spectrometers. ZEISS EVO can be configured to be part of a semi-automated multimodal workflow, with tools for seamless relocation of regions of interest and integrity of data collected from multiple modalities. In such configurations, ZEISS EVO enables highly productive correlative microscopy and analysis methods to provide users with more meaningful data and a deeper understanding of their samples.

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ZEISS Crossbeam 550 Receives German Design Award 2018

A jury of experts from the German Design Council has voted the ZEISS Crossbeam 550 focused ion beam scanning electron microscope (FIB-SEM) as a winner of the German Design Award 2018 in the “Material and Surfaces” category.

High-end applications in research and industry

Users of this FIB-SEM investigate nanostructures such as composites, metals, biomaterials or semiconductors with analytical and imaging methods in parallel. ZEISS Crossbeam 550 allows simultaneous modification and monitoring of samples, resulting in fast sample preparation and high throughput, e.g. for cross-sectioning, TEM lamella preparation or nano-patterning. The instrument provides best image quality in 2D and 3D.

The premium prize of the German Design Council

The German Design Award is the top international prize of the German Design Council. Its goal: to discover, present and honor unique design trends. Therefore, every year, top-quality entries from product and communication design are rewarded, all of which are in their own way ground-breaking in the international design landscape. Launched in 2012, the German Design Award is one of the most well-respected design competitions in the world and is held in high regard well beyond professional circles.

The German Design Award is conferred by the German Design Council, Germany’s leading brand and design authority. Its mission is to present the latest developments on the German design scene.

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ZEISS Introduces Update of LabDCT

Diffraction Contrast Tomography Module for X-Ray Microscopy

ZEISS presents an update of LabDCT – its diffraction contrast tomography module for the ZEISS Xradia 520 Versa X-ray microscope. This imaging and analytical technique is used to obtain crystallographic information on metal alloys or polycrystalline materials. It enables non-destructive mapping of orientation and microstructure. With LabDCT, ZEISS takes diffraction contrast tomography out of the exclusive realm of the synchrotron and extends it right into the researcher’s laboratory. LabDCT includes GrainMapper3D analysis software developed by Xnovo Technology ApS.

Non-destructive LabDCT 3D grain structure of iron. Internal crystallography (color) revealed by diffraction information (black and white).

With the update of LabDCT, users can now combine 3D grain orientation with 3D microstructural features such as defects or precipitates observed in tomography. This opens up new possibilities for characterizing damage, deformation and growth mechanisms or even modeling for predictive materials design. Researchers can now complete grain imaging with 3D grain morphology. They routinely acquire grain statistics on larger volumes at faster acquisition times. Crystallographic information provided by LabDCT lets users supplement other analyses like EBSD or synchrotron methods.

Nik Chawla, Arizona State University professor of materials science and engineering, and the director of the Center for 4D Materials Science (4DMS), says, “3D X-ray provides a new dimension to studying metallic alloys. With our ZEISS Xradia Versa system and LabDCT, we can do cutting edge-experiments in-house. The 24/7 access reduces the long wait times between synchrotron trips, while allowing us to perform long-term uninterrupted studies on corrosion and crack growth.”

Download the tech note here to learn more.

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Discover how LabDCT works

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Overcoming Multi-scale Challenges in Materials Science with ZEISS Atlas 5

Educational webinar details how to connect experiments across many length scales with light, electron/ion and X-ray microscopy data

Multi-scale correlative study of Magnesium corrosion in collaboration with the University of Manchester.

Join us for a webinar which will describe how ZEISS Atlas 5 is being used to overcome multi-scale challenges in materials science. In particular, you will learn how Atlas 5’s correlative workspace has the unique ability to connect experiments across many length scales conducted with light, electron/ion and X-ray microscopy approaches.

A special focus will be given to ‘correlative tomography’ studies, where 3D microstructure is sampled at vastly different length scales, in a coordinated and targeted approach making many multi-scale experiments possible for the first time. Specific examples of corrosion in magnesium alloys, high-strength aluminum alloys and multi-scale investigations of lithium ion batteries will be presented in detail.

Overcoming Multi-scale Challenges in Materials Science with ZEISS Atlas 5
Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016, 8:00 AM PDT | 11:00 AM EDT | 16:00 UK | 17:00 CET
Speakers: Jeff Gelb (ZEISS Microscopy)

Attendees will receive a complimentary e-guide highlighting examples of corrosion in magnesium alloys, high-strength aluminum alloys and multi-scale investigations of lithium ion batteries. Link to webinar recording will be sent to all registered attendees shortly after the live presentation.

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Selected Applications of Focused Ion Beam Scanning Electron Microscopy in Materials Science

White Papers detailing the advantages of ZEISS Crossbeam FIB-SEM technology

With ZEISS Crossbeam you combine the imaging and analytical performance of the GEMINI column with the ability of a next-generation FIB for material processing and sample preparation on a nanoscopic scale. Use the modular platform concept and the open and easily extendable software architecture of this 3D nano-workstation for high throughput nanotomography and nanofabrication of even your most demanding, charging or magnetic samples.

This article highlights current applications of ZEISS Crossbeam technology for high-end nanofabrication, correlative nano-imaging, and advanced materials analysis. Download the White Papers as free pdf files and contact us for further questions via our website!

Lithium Battery

18650 Lithium ion battery. Site of interest, cross-section prepared with the FIB, SEM overview image showing topography (right)

ZEISS Application Note: Multi-scale Characterization of Lithium Ion Battery Cathode Material by Correlative X-ray and FIB-SEM Microscopy

Thermoelectric Material

Thermoelectric material. Volume rendering of FIB-SEM acquisition (left), showing a Si-rich phase in orange and a Sn-rich phase in green, with clear interdiffusion in the transition zone ~25-30 μm wide in the center. Single slice from SEM acquisition (right), material contrast, 5k × 2.5k pixels, corresponding to ~40 × 20 × 5 μm volume, acquired with isotropic 8 nm voxels.

ZEISS Application Note: Correlative XRM-FIB/SEM Study of Thermoelectric Materials

Corrosion on Magnesium Alloy

Crack and corrosion byproduct geometries after corrosion in a magnesium alloy. Thermoelectric material. A 3D rendering of the volume acquired (left) with FIB-SEM tomography. The data reveals crack geometries and salt deposits (blue arrow) as well as complex corrosion product microstructures (red arrow). Overlay (right) of X-ray (in the background) and FIB-SEM data showing an equivalent plane of data in 2D.

ZEISS Application Note: Multi-scale Correlative Study of Corrosion Evolution in a Magnesium Alloy

Cryo FIB-SEM on Healthcare Products

SEM overview over a skin cream, imaged under cryo-conditions in a FIB-SEM showing vesicles (arrows) and platelets (ellipsoids) (left). Vesicle distribution and their internal structure can be investigated. Detail of a vesicle, SEM topography image of a cryo-planed surface, cryo-ultra-microtome preparation, imaged at low voltage (right).

ZEISS Application Note: Microstructure of Skin Cream Using Cryo-planing and Cryo-FIB-SEM

Graphene

Measurement of thickness and exact determination of the number of graphene layers by a unique detection of material contrast with the Inlens Energy selective Backscatter detector. Dispersed graphene flakes deposited on a lacey carbon TEM grid. The landing energy is selected such that the interaction volume matches the sample dimensions. For a quantitative analysis the number of graphene layers can be determined from grey-value analysis in the BSE image. In this case the thickness is normalized to the supporting lacey carbon grid. Inlens EsB image (left), color-coded image (right).

ZEISS Application Note:  Thickness Measurement of Free-standing Multilayered Graphene: Comparison of SEM Backscatter Signal to TEM Plasmon Energy Loss Signal

TEM Lamella Preparation

A three-step workflow in the FIB steering software SmartFIB guides automated sample preparation, such as TEM lamellae preparation.

ZEISS Application Note:  ZEISS Crossbeam Family – Enabling Smart FIB Work with SmartSEM

TEM Lamella Preparation 2

Preparation of ultrathin lamellae from sensitive polymer samples using FIB and the X² method produces stable TEM lamellae. Using a dedicated ZEISS sample holder, ultrathin lamellae can be produced from sensitive polymer samples with low distortion and uniform thickness. Left: model of the principle of the X2 method. Right: STEM image.

ZEISS Application Note: X² STEM Lamella Preparation from Multi-composite Organic Electronic Devices with ZEISS FIB-SEMs

Semiconductor Device

Front-end of a semi-conductor device in a 45 nm node. TEM lamella prepared by FIB. STEM images. Diffraction contrast in brightfield image (left). No diffraction visible in HAADF image (right), the contrast of the silicide present on top of the transistors and in some regions of the Si substrate is totally dominated by mass scattering. The ion implanted silicon regions between the transistors show alterations of the crystalline structure, but no mass contrast, due to the limited presence (ppm range) of the dopant atoms in the region.

ZEISS Technology Note: An Annular detector for ZEISS FE-SEMs and Crossbeams – aSTEM 4 Combines Multiple Contrasting Methods and Analysis Speed for High Quality Imaging in SEMs

Chromium Depletion in Stainless Steel

Heat affected X2CrNi18-10 stainless steel from a pipeline. Small chromium carbide particles form at grain boundaries, causing chromium depletion of the surrounding matrix and thus promoting corrosion. TEM Lamella, prepared with FIB, imaged with STEM (left). Energy dispersive spectroscopy, element mapping with a lateral resolution of 10 nm of a site showing regions with and without Chromium at a grain boundary (right).

ZEISS Application Note: ZEISS Crossbeam Family – High Resolution STEM and EDS Study of Chromium Depletion in Stainless Steel

For more amazing applications, details and direct contact, please visit our product website and discover how the unique ZEISS Crossbeam technology will advance your research!

Complimentary webinar invitation: Overcoming Multi-scale Challenges in Materials Science with ZEISS Atlas 5

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