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As a major improvement in three-dimensional (3D) atom probe, the range of applicable material classes has recently been broadened by the establishment of laser-assisted atom probes (LA-3DAP). Meanwhile, measurements of materials of low conductivity, such as dielectrics, ceramics, and semiconductors, have widely been demonstrated. However, besides different evaporation probabilities, heterogeneous dielectric properties are expected to give rise to additional artifacts in the 3D volume reconstruction on which the method is based. In this article, these conceivable artifacts are discussed based on a numeric simulation of the field evaporation. Sample tips of layer- or precipitate-type geometry are considered. It is demonstrated that dielectric materials tend to behave similarly to metals of reduced critical evaporation field.
Atom probe tomography provides a chemical analysis of nanostructured materials with outstanding resolution. However, due to the process of field evaporation triggered by nanosecond high voltage pulses, the method is usually limited to conductive materials. As part of recent efforts to overcome this limitation, it is demonstrated that the analysis of thick NiO and WO3 oxide layers is possible by laser pulses of 500 ps duration. A careful analysis of the mass spectra demonstrates that the expected stoichiometries are well reproduced by the measurement. The reconstruction of lattice planes proves that surface diffusion is negligible also in the case of thermal pulses.
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