• X-ray diffraction tomography;
  • X-ray powder diffraction;
  • automotive paint;
  • pigment identification


Combined microscopic X-ray fluorescence/microscopic X-ray diffraction (µ-XRF/µ-XRD) tomography is a recently developed method that allows the visualization of the distribution of chemical elements and the associated crystalline phases inside complex, heterogeneous materials of extended thickness (millimeter range) in a nondestructive fashion. In this paper, the accuracy and resolution with which the individual layers in a multilayer stack of automotive paints can be distinguished is evaluated, and some of their properties measured. A paint layer system of eight layers was investigated, in which eight different crystalline substances were identified, each layer consisting of an organic, synthetic resin doped with finely milled inorganic compounds that serve as pigments or to strengthen the layer. In the XRD tomograms, all paint layers could be straightforwardly distinguished and their average thickness calculated. In case the filtered back projection method was used for tomogram reconstruction, a spatial resolution comparable to the microbeam size was obtained indicating no significant reconstruction blurring. When a more robust reconstruction method, such as the maximum-likelihood expectation maximization method, was employed, tomograms showing fewer artifacts were obtained, but with a spatial resolution that was two times worse. In the corresponding XRF tomograms, significant self-absorption distorted the element-specific tomograms corresponding to the low-energy (<7 keV) characteristic radiation and limited their usefulness. It can be concluded that microbeam XRD tomography allows the accurate visualization of the distribution of crystalline phases in multilayered automotive paint materials of millimeter dimensions with sufficient resolution to allow separate characterization of each layer in terms of its crystal-phase composition and thickness. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.