• diffraction/scattering computed tomography;
  • structural characterization;
  • diffraction imaging

The three-dimensional characterization method described herein is based on diffraction and scattering techniques combined with tomography and uses the variation of these signals to reconstruct a two-dimensional/three-dimensional structural image. To emphasize the capability of the method in discriminating between different poorly ordered phases, it is named diffraction/scattering computed tomography (DSCT). This combination not only allows structural imaging but also yields an enhancement of the weak signals coming from minor phases, thereby increasing the sensitivity of structural probes. This article reports the suitability of the method for discrimination of polycrystalline and amorphous phases and for extraction of their selective local patterns with a contrast sensitivity of about 0.1% in weight of minor phases relative to the matrix. The required background in tomography is given and then the selectivity of scattering signal, the efficiency of the method, reconstruction artefacts and limitations are addressed. The approach is illustrated through different examples covering a large range of applications based on recent literature, showing the potential of DSCT in crystallography and materials science, particularly when functional and/or precious samples with sub-micrometre features have to be investigated in a nondestructive way.