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3D Atom Probe Tomography


The LEAP 4000X is a three-dimensional atom probe microscope which provides nano-scale surface, bulk and interfacial materials analysis of structures with atom-by-atom identification and spatial positioning. The technique is based upon the principle of field evaporation, where a strong electric field is sufficient to cause the removal of atoms by ionization from a very sharp tip. Repetition of a pulsed voltage or laser progressively removes atoms from the apex of the specimen one-by-one. The atoms leaving the specimen surface are detected by a position-sensitive imaging mass spectrometer and recorded. The time-series data-set collected is reconstructed into an atomic scale 3-dimensional model or tomograph of the specimen Specimens are typically in the form of micrometer long needle shaped object with a tip diameter less than about 200 nm and a radius of curvature of about 100 nm. Specimen preparation often includes electropolishing for metals or FIB milling for any solid bulk specimen.

Scientific Opportunities / Applications:

Interface characterization
3D elemental distributions
Compositional analysis
Precipitate characterization
Grain and phase boundary analysis
Cluster and nucleation distributions
3D device characterization

Access Information:

Collaborative research projects are possible when the work is consistent with the Surface and Microanalysis Science Division interests. See contacts below to discuss possible collaborations

Associated Programs/Projects:

•   Electropolisher (Simplex Electropointer)
•   Focused Ion Beam (FIB, 2+ available)
•   Titan Analytical Electron Microscope

Credit: NIST

Name: Eric Steel
Phone: 301-975-3902
Email: eric.steel@nist.gov
100 Bureau Drive
Gaithersburg MD 20899-8371

Name: Fred Meisenkothen
Phone: 301-975-3608
Email: frederick.meisenkothen@nist.gov