From 2D to 3D Chemical Analysis on the µm- to cm-Scale
Combining µ-XRF and SEM/EDS with Serial Sectioning
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For a long time, the world of microanalysis was 2-dimensional. Recently, atom probe tomography (APT) and focused ion beam (FIB) serial sectioning (combined with other techniques) have become available for the 3D chemical analysis of small structures (<100 nm for APT and <20 µm for FIB). The article illustrates, that the modern silicon drift detector (SDD) technology used in energy dispersive spectrometry (EDS) on scanning electron microscopes (SEM) and in spatially resolved micro X-ray fluorescence (µ‑XRF) makes it quite simple to obtain 3D chemical data of larger samples.
The total time spent on such 3D reconstructions (including the time spent on 2D map acquisition, grinding/ polishing and 3D data presentation) is comparable to the time spent on a 3D-FIB dataset. Advances in data processing make "sample digitalization" possible. This means that the sample can be almost completely polished away, but all the chemical data is still recorded and can be presented as a virtual 3D data cube. How EDS and µ‑XRF complement each other in 3D chemical analysis is also discussed (see PDF).