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Colorizing images and representing them in 3D are common practices in many fields of science and industry. Automation of these processes is now bringing new presentation possibilities to scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Here, we discuss various methods used to bring micrographs to life and make details contained within them easier for the human eye to comprehend. These include stereophotogrammetry, reflectometry (“shape from shading”), and a new technique for adding color to objects that soon could make flat, gray SEM images a thing of the past.
The scanning tunneling microscope is essential to nanoscience and nanotechnology because it can provide images of surfaces at the atomic level with sub-nanometer resolution. Now a LabVIEW-based virtual instrument is available as a free-download at our company website (www.newpathresearch.com) for simulating the full operation of a scanning tunneling microscope. This is an executable version to be run on a Windows operating system without requiring other software.
Aberration-corrected STEM has become a standard analytical technique in the field of nanoscience. As “designer materials” have become more in demand in academic circles, verification of a desired product makes atomic-resolutionanalysis mandatory. Industry currently faces the same trend where tailor-made materials are customized for a given application. Here we show several examples where quantifiable atomic-scale manipulation of nanomaterials can have a dramatic impact on structure and, by extension, functionality.
Semiconductors CulnSe2 (CIS) and alloys of Cu(ln,Ga)Se2 (CIGS) are often used as the light absorbing layer in thin film photovoltaic devices. These polycrystalline materials reach good conversion efficiencies despite the presence of grain boundaries, which can degrade device performance. Grain properties such as size distribution and orientation can be characterized using electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD). The EBSD method has been used extensively to determine texture and recrystallization in metal forming processes but to a lesser extent for characterization of CIGS thin film properties. This article describes measurements of grain properties for CIGS thin films grown under different reaction conditions.
Preparing cross sections of particulates and wires for scanning electron microscopy study without inducing mechanical damage is difficult. Embedding materials in commercially available epoxy before polishing with a broad unfocused ion beam is a simple and inexpensive way to produce a cross section with minimal preparation artifacts. A stepwise procedure is provided for embedding and polishing powders, larger particles, and wires.