The shape of the emitter is of cardinal importance to field-ion microscopy. First, the field evaporation process itself is closely related to the initial tip shape. Secondly, the imaging stress, which is near the theoretical strength of the material and intrinsic to the imaging process, cannot be characterized without knowledge of the emitter shape. Finally, the problem of obtaining quantitative geometric information from the micrograph cannot be solved without knowing the shape. Previously published grain-boundary topographies were obtained employing an assumption of a spherical shape (1). The present investigation shows that the true shape deviates as much as 100 Å from sphericity and boundary reconstructions contain considerable error as a result.
Our present procedures for obtaining tip shape may be summarized as follows. An empirical projection, D=f(θ), is obtained by digitizing the positions of poles on a field-ion micrograph.