Revealing the three dimensional internal structure of aluminium alloys


  • Paper published as part of the ECASIA 2011 special issue.

Correspondence to: George Edward Thompson, The University of Manchester, School of Materials, Manchester, England, United Kingdom.



Materials ultramicrotomy has been progressed at Manchester for many years, enabling generation of suitably thin specimens for transmission electron microscopy. In addition, the remaining block specimen from which thin, electron transparent specimens have been generated also provides the basis for specimen preparation for high resolution backscattered electron imaging in the scanning electron microscope. This knowledge allows generation of serial sections of appropriate specimens that are oxide- and contamination-free for high resolution observation in the backscattered imaging mode. With recent instrumental developments, i.e. the GATAN 3View System, enabling ultramicrotomy to be performed in-SEM, relatively rapid sectioning and imaging can now be performed with ready reconstruction of electron tomographs. Further, correlative microscopy can be undertaken by utilising the GATAN XuM system in the same scanning electron microscope, enabling non-destructive X-ray tomography in addition to destructive electron tomography. The in-SEM, serial sectioning of selected aluminium alloys is considered here, as well as correlation of the X-ray and electron tomography approaches on the penetration of localised corrosion into an AA2024 T351 aluminium aerospace alloy. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.