AU Press Releases

New analytical tools for SEM imaging

Fewer defects in materials processing should improve a manufacturer's performance in the market place.

Assistant Professor Eric J. Payton brings several improved analytical tools to AU's SEM imaging.  He can now quantitatively characterize those images and map a composition spatially based on the two dimensional SEM image.   These quantitative SEM techniques should yield better materials through processing improvements.

Dr.  Payton can record thousands of SEM images per hour, thus enabling advanced quantitative characterization of those images.  The sheer volume increase in measurements allows for finer grained mathematical analysis.  Previously, technicians could only take a handful of measurements in a day's work.

This volume of imaging is made possible by improved sample preparation, better imaging technology and software, and automation of the recording.  Incremental improvements in each of these areas creates a robust improvement in SEM when all three elements are combined.

Not only is the volume of imaging increased, but the images themselves are clearer, thus yielding better measurements as well. 

Being able to measure a material's microstructure is critical to characterization.  And properties do not vary between materials, but also within one composition.  A given composition can vary in terms of strength, fatigue resistance, hardness, toughness, etc. depending on the size and orientation of grains. 

This new clarity and volume of images also allows Dr. Payton to spatially map the microstructure of an entire sample.  The measurement of grain size and orientation on the surface allows a computer to project those grains through the entire sample being examined.  This is done mathematically, after making assumptions about the grains.  One such assumption is the symmetry and uniformity of individual grains.

Dr. Payton joined AU faculty in August 2013.  He received his PHD in materials science and engineering from Ohio State in 2009.  He worked as a post-doctoral fellow in Germany: first at the Ruhr-Universitaet Bochum and then at Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing in Berlin.