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Enhancing Element Identification by Expectation–Maximization Method in Atom Probe Tomography

  • Francois Vurpillot (a1), Constantinos Hatzoglou (a1), Bertrand Radiguet (a1), Gerald Da Costa (a1), Fabien Delaroche (a1) and Frederic Danoix (a1)...


This paper describes an alternative way to assign elemental identity to atoms collected by atom probe tomography (APT). This method is based on Bayesian assignation of label through the expectation–maximization method (well known in data analysis). Assuming the correct shape of mass over charge peaks in mass spectra, the probability of each atom to be labeled as a given element is determined, and is used to enhance data visualization and composition mapping in APT analyses. The method is particularly efficient for small count experiments with a low signal to noise ratio, and can be used on small subsets of analyzed volumes, and is complementary to single-ion decomposition methods. Based on the selected model and experimental examples, it is shown that the method enhances our ability to observe and extract information from the raw dataset. The experimental case of the superimposition of the Si peak and N peak in a steel is presented.


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*Author for correspondence: Francois Vurpillot, E-mail:


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