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Two advanced, automated crystal orientation mapping techniques suited for nanocrystalline materials—precession electron diffraction (PED) in transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and on-axis transmission Kikuchi diffraction (TKD) in scanning electron microscopy (SEM)—are evaluated by comparing the orientation maps obtained from the identical location on a 30 nm-thick nanocrystalline tungsten (W) thin film. A side-by-side comparison of the orientation maps directly showed that the large-scale orientation features are almost identical. However, there are differences in the fine details, which arise from the fundamentally different nature of the spot pattern and Kikuchi line pattern in terms of the excitation volume and the angular resolution. While TEM-PED is more reliable to characterize grains oriented along low-index zone axes, the high angular resolution of SEM-TKD allows the detection of small misorientation between grains and thus yields better quantification and statistical analysis of grain orientation. Given that both TEM-PED and SEM-TKD orientation mapping techniques are complementary tools for nanocrystalline materials, one can be favorably selected depending on the requirements of the analysis, as they have competitive performance in terms of angular resolution and texture quantification.
Breast cancer (BC) is one of the most prevalent forms of cancer in women worldwide. Clinical research indicates that BC patients are at an increased risk for thrombotic events, drastically decreasing their quality-of-life and treatment outcomes. There is ample evidence of this in the literature, but it is mainly focused on metastatic BC. Therefore, coagulopathies of nonmetastatic BC are understudied and require in-depth investigation. In this study, clot kinetics and ultrastructure were used to investigate treatment-naïve, nonmetastatic BC patients using scanning electron microscopy, Thromboelastography®, and confocal laser scanning microscopy. It was demonstrated that nonmetastatic BC patients exhibit minimal ultrastructural alterations of the clot components and no changes in the clot kinetics. However, BC patients presented changes to fibrinogen protein structure, compared to matched controls, using an amyloid-selective stain. Together, these findings suggest that coagulation dysfunction(s) in BC patients with early disease manifest at the microlevel, rather than the macrolevel. This study presents novel insights to a method that are more sensitive to coagulation changes in this specific patient group, emphasizing that the coagulation system may react in different forms to the disease, depending on the progression of the disease itself.
The development of microfabricated liquid cells has enabled dynamic studies of nanostructures within a liquid environment with electron microscopy. While such setups are most commonly found in transmission electron microscope (TEM) holders, their implementation in a scanning electron microscope (SEM) offers intriguing potential for multi-modal studies where the large chamber volume allows for the integration of multiple detectors. Here, we describe an electrochemical liquid cell SEM platform that employs the same cells enclosed by silicon nitride membrane windows found in liquid cell TEM holders and demonstrate the imaging of copper oxide nanoparticles in solution using both backscattered and transmitted electrons. In particular, the transmitted electron images collected at high scattering angles show contrast inversion at liquid layer thicknesses of several hundred nanometers, which can be used to determine the presence of liquid in the cell, while maintaining enough resolution to image nanoparticles that are tens of nanometers in size. Using Monte Carlo simulations, we show that both imaging modes have their advantages for liquid phase imaging and rationalize the contrast inversion observed in the transmitted electron image.
Recent years have seen increased crossover of microscopy techniques developed for transmission electron microscopes (TEMs) being utilized as well in scanning electron microscopes (SEMs). The order of magnitude lower beam energies available in SEMs correspond with significantly different beam-sample interactions that must be accounted for when examining freestanding films. This is especially important for composition analysis via energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) since lower-energy transmission experiments mean X-ray volumes become comparable to sample dimensions. To better understand this scenario, we report results of an SEM-EDS study of terraced freestanding films comprising binary compounds with well-defined atomic ratios. Guided by Monte Carlo simulations, EDS line scan data were collected at different beam energies across segments of varying thicknesses. The results of quantification analysis using different models are compared for multiple combinations of beam energy, sample thickness, and material density, from which some general guidelines are provided for SEM-EDS analysis of freestanding films.
Nonmetallic inclusion (NMI) populations in superelastic (SE) Nitinol fine wires (<140 μm in diameter) were investigated by combining plasma focused ion beam (PFIB) serial sectioning with scanning electron microscopy (SEM). High purity (HP)—lower oxygen content and standard purity (SP)—higher oxygen content Nitinol wires were sectioned and imaged. The three-dimensional (3D) reconstructions provided more complete connectivity of NMIs and pores as well as information about the distribution of the features within the wire volume that is not possible with traditional two-dimensional (2D) imaging techniques. NMIs were present alone and with pores in the leading and/or trailing edges of the inclusions, in addition to stringers (i.e., fractured, elongated NMI, and intermixed with pores adjacent to each other), all of which were parallel to the wire drawing axis. The area percentages for the NMIs were 0.01% (HP Nitinol) and 0.04% (SP Nitinol), while the volume percentages measured 0.09% (HP Nitinol) and 0.47% (SP Nitinol). The combined PFIB-SEM serial sectioning approach provided the requisite resolution necessary to distinguish between NMIs and pores at micron and submicron sizes. Information gathered from this technique can be used to better inform models and predictions for fatigue lifetimes based on statistical analyses of these feature populations.
Rare earth elements (REEs, ‘lanthanides’) constitute a vital commodity for technological applications. Although these elements occur at trace levels in many minerals, they can comprise major constituents of low abundance phosphate, carbonate, silicate and oxide minerals, some of which form during granite weathering. REE-phosphate phases can be a source of phosphorus for essential biomolecules and certain REEs are required by some bacterial enzymes involved in the oxidation of methanol, an important compound in the global biogeochemical carbon cycle. The mechanisms that promote the dissolution of lanthanide phosphate minerals are largely unknown, but probably vary with the lanthanide phosphate mineralogy of weathered rock and soil. Here, we studied weathering of five I-type, three S-type and one A-type granite to determine the extent of weathering of primary REE- and/or P-bearing minerals apatite, allanite and monazite, and the formation of secondary REE/P-bearing minerals. We found evidence for greater mobilisation of REE and P in weathered I-type and A-type granites than in S-types, reflecting the higher solubility of apatite and allanite relative to monazite. Although monazite persisted in highly weathered S-type granites, some alteration was detected. Secondary REE/P-bearing minerals were not detected in two S-type profiles, while spherical secondary REE/P-bearing mineral aggregates were abundant throughout the third S-type profile. Secondary euhedral REE/P-bearing crystals were abundant even in the slightly weathered I-type and A-type granite material, yet they were not detected in the highly weathered material, indicating that these minerals had dissolved. Our findings indicate that mineralogy constrains substantially, but does not control completely, lanthanide availability as a function of degree of weathering. These results have implications for predicting REE and phosphate bioavailability in soils derived from granitic rock types and suggest that highly weathered I-type granites may provide inocula for bioleaching experiments.
Additive manufacturing (AM) has made long strides in the recent past and rapidly evolved into a promising alternative in specific applications. The aircraft industry is not an exception to this. The true just-intime production possibility is critical for the aircraft maintenance industries, though the lack of material freedom is a major hurdle. Several fire-retardant materials were investigated for AM in the aerospace context, but mainly for fused deposition modeling (FDM). The material consolidation constraints in FDM led to the expansion to the use of selective laser sintering (SLS) to some extent. Nevertheless, the material options are still limited, proprietary, and lack scientific insights into the material consolidation mechanics. Attempts are made in this paper to fill this gap, evaluating a new fire-retardant material for processing by SLS. Experiments conducted to ascertain the material, process, structure, and consolidation relationships indicated energy density levels 0.062–0.070 J/mm2 with laser power 13 W and scan speed varied slightly around 390 mm/s to give the best laser sintering and mechanical property results in polyetherimide powders.
Monte Carlo simulations are commonly used in elemental quantification using energy-dispersive spectroscopy (EDS). Here, the Monte Carlo program MC X-ray was incorporated into the image processing software Dragonfly by Object Research Systems (ORS) as a simulation library. The simulation program has been transformed into a complete microscope simulator where the tools of Dragonfly allow complex voxel-based geometries to be constructed, and the electron beam and detectors can be freely placed inside the 3D space. Computation times of simulations have been improved drastically through new data structures and parallelization. Simulations of backscattered electron imaging and EDS mapping are presented here to demonstrate the capabilities of this new library.
Combined oral contraceptives (COCs) are commonly prescribed and increase the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE). We have previously found that two COCs, both containing drospirenone (DRSP) and ethinyl estradiol (EE), cause spontaneous fibrin formation in whole blood. The aim of this study was, therefore, to use platelet-poor plasma (PPP) from the same cohort of DRSP/EE users to determine the impact of these COCs on the fibrin component, specifically the fibrin clot viscoelasticity, turbidimetry, and biophysical traits. PPP from 25 females per test group and a control group (n = 25) were analyzed using thromboelastography (TEG), turbidimetry, and scanning electron microscopy. The results highlight abnormal fibrin clot formation, lysis, and architecture; DRSP/20EE showed the greatest effect. DRSP/EE use increased the fibrin fiber diameter and showed dense matted clots. Only when the influence of COCs on the structural properties and behavior of fibrin fibers during thrombus formation and lysis is better understood are we able to predict and prevent coagulopathies associated with these synthetic hormones. Clinical practitioners should take this into consideration for female patients that either have comorbidities, which could burden the coagulation system, or may be exposed to external factors that could increase their risk for VTE.
The present study investigated the association between fibre degradation and the concentration of dissolved molecular hydrogen (H2) in the rumen. Napier grass (NG) silage and corn stover (CS) silage were compared as forages with contrasting structures and degradation patterns. In the first experiment, CS silage had greater 48-h DM, neutral-detergent fibre (NDF) and acid-detergent fibre degradation, and total gas and methane (CH4) volumes, and lower 48-h H2 volume than NG silage in 48-h in vitro incubations. In the second experiment, twenty-four growing beef bulls were fed diets including 55 % (DM basis) NG or CS silages. Bulls fed the CS diet had greater DM intake (DMI), average daily gain, total-tract digestibility of OM and NDF, ruminal dissolved methane (dCH4) concentration and gene copies of protozoa, methanogens, Ruminococcus albus and R. flavefaciens, and had lower ruminal dH2 concentration, and molar proportions of valerate and isovalerate, in comparison with those fed the NG diet. There was a negative correlation between dH2 concentration and NDF digestibility in bulls fed the CS diet, and a lack of relationship between dH2 concentration and NDF digestibility with the NG diet. In summary, the fibre of CS silage was more easily degraded by rumen microorganisms than that of NG silage. Increased dCH4 concentration with the CS diet presumably led to the decreased ruminal dH2 concentration, which may be helpful for fibre degradation and growth of fibrolytic micro-organisms in the rumen.
In Antarctica, amphipods form a highly diverse group, occupy many different ecological niches and hold an important place in food webs. Here, we aimed to test whether differences in Antarctic amphipod feeding habits were reflected in their mandible morphology, and if mouthpart specialization could be used to describe amphipod trophic ecology. To do so, we compared mandible morphology in nine species spanning seven families and five functional groups (grazers, suspension feeders, generalist predators, specialist predators and scavengers). Mandible morphology adequately depicted some aspects of amphipod trophic ecology, such as the trophic level at which animals feed or their degree of dietary specialization. On the other hand, links between mandible morphology and amphipod diet were seldom unambiguous or straightforward. Similar adaptations were found in distinct functional groups. Conversely, mandible morphology could vary within a single functional group, and phylogenetic effects sometimes complicated the interpretation of form-function relationships. Overall, mandible morphology on its own was generally not sufficient to precisely predict amphipod feeding strategies. However, when combined with other methods (e.g. gut contents, trophic markers), it constitutes a valuable source of information for integrative studies of amphipod ecological diversity in the Southern Ocean.
Based on technologies capable of data collection between the millimeter and nanometer scales, correlative imaging has been transforming how researchers obtain molecular and spatial information from specimens. Attempts to combine multidimensional data are often met with the challenge of overcoming suboptimal sample conditions such as reduced fluorescence signal, poor specimen preservation, anisotropic specimen deformation, and low specimen contrast. These issues motivated the development and use of enhanced sample preparation procedures, as well as specialized imaging software to overcome such challenges. In this work we present three simple methods to correlate optical and scanning electron microscopy images.
The formation of shear bands during hot deformation of a two-phase (α2 + γ) titanium aluminide and its consequences on dynamics softening has been investigated. The starting material consists of a colony of lamellar grains along with the segregated vanadium and niobium which was subjected to hot deformation in the temperature range 1000–1175 °C at the strain rate 10 s−1. Microstructures of the deformed samples indicate that, with increase in the deformation temperature, the orientation of shear bands changes. Moreover, the extent of dynamic recrystallization also increases with deformation temperature. The softening behaviour and crystallographic orientation change within lamellae during hot deformation have been explored. The nucleation of newly recrystallized grains has been observed at twin–parent grain boundary and within the twined γ phase. Lamellae of the γ and α2 phase have been also observed to be twisted and tilted, leading to the band formations under the load, whose mechanisms have also been explored in the present study.
The continental shelf edge of the NW Gulf of Mexico supports dozens of reefs and banks, including the West and East Flower Garden Banks (FGB) and Stetson Bank that comprise the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS). Discovered by fishermen in the early 1900s, the FGBs are named after the colourful corals, sponges and algae that dominate the region. The reefs and banks are the surface expression of underlying salt domes and provide important habitat for mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCE) and deep coral communities to 300 m depth. Since 2001, FGBNMS research teams have utilized remotely operated vehicles (e.g. ‘Phantom S2’, ‘Mohawk’, ‘Yogi’) to survey and characterize benthic habitats of this region. In 2016, a Draft Environmental Impact Statement proposed the expansion of the current sanctuary boundaries to incorporate an additional 15 reefs and banks, including Elvers Bank. Antipatharians (black corals) were collected within the proposed expansion sites and analysed using morphological and molecular methods. A new species, Distichopathes hickersonae, collected at 172 m depth on Elvers Bank, is described within the family Aphanipathidae. This brings the total number of black coral species in and around the sanctuary to 14.
Selective laser melting (SLM) is a state-of-the-art technology in the additive manufacturing field. This study focuses on the influence of scanning speed on the fabrication of Ti6Al4V samples produced by SLM. This article contributes to the effect of SLM scanning speed parameters on micropores, surface morphology, and roughness. The detailed characterizations for the parts produced by the SLM process are evaluated. An SLM scanning speed of 695, 775, or 853 mm/s was selected. The findings show that a high quality of surface morphology and microstructure is obtained at a scanning speed of 775 mm/s. In addition, the maximum surface roughness values for both upper and side surfaces are approximately 0.460 µm and 0.592 µm, respectively. Furthermore, surface defect characteristics regarding the speed mechanism parameter for the SLM system are also discussed, and the challenges to the part quality, and potential for numerous industries (e.g., aerospace, automotive, and biomedical), creating microstructures, are observed.
Tomography using a focused ion beam (FIB) combined with a scanning electron microscope (SEM) is well-established for a wide range of conducting materials. However, performing FIB–SEM tomography on ion- and electron-beam-sensitive materials as well as poorly conducting soft materials remains challenging. Some common challenges include cross-sectioning artifacts, shadowing effects, and charging. Fully dense materials provide a planar cross section, whereas pores also expose subsurface areas of the planar cross-section surface. The image intensity of the subsurface areas gives rise to overlap between the grayscale intensity levels of the solid and pore areas, which complicates image processing and segmentation for three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction. To avoid the introduction of artifacts, the goal is to examine porous and poorly conducting soft materials as close as possible to their original state. This work presents a protocol for the optimization of FIB–SEM tomography parameters for porous and poorly conducting soft materials. The protocol reduces cross-sectioning artifacts, charging, and eliminates shadowing effects. In addition, it handles the subsurface and grayscale intensity overlap problems in image segmentation. The protocol was evaluated on porous polymer films which have both poor conductivity and pores. 3D reconstructions, with automated data segmentation, from three films with different porosities were successfully obtained.
Key features and applications of a unique atomic force microscope (AFM), the LiteScope™, which can be integrated into a scanning electron microscope (SEM) is reported. Using the AFM-in-SEM as one tool combines the capabilities of both systems in a very efficient way. The LiteScope design features advanced Correlative Probe and Electron Microscopy (CPEM)™ imaging technology that allows simultaneous acquisition of multiple AFM and SEM signals and their precise in-time correlation into a 3D CPEM view. AFM-in-SEM advantages are presented using several examples of applications and AFM measurement modes including CPEM, material electrical and mechanical properties together with nanoindentation, and focused ion beam (FIB) applications.
With the growing importance of three-dimensional and very large field of view imaging, acquisition time becomes a serious bottleneck. Additionally, dose reduction is of importance when imaging material like biological tissue that is sensitive to electron radiation. Random sparse scanning can be used in the combination with image reconstruction techniques to reduce the acquisition time or electron dose in scanning electron microscopy. In this study, we demonstrate a workflow that includes data acquisition on a scanning electron microscope, followed by a sparse image reconstruction based on compressive sensing or alternatively using neural networks. Neuron structures are automatically segmented from the reconstructed images using deep learning techniques. We show that the average dwell time per pixel can be reduced by a factor of 2–3, thereby providing a real-life confirmation of previous results on simulated data in one of the key segmentation applications in connectomics and thus demonstrating the feasibility and benefit of random sparse scanning techniques for a specific real-world scenario.
The effects of stress-free and stress-assisted pretreatments at a relatively high temperature on the creep properties of  and  oriented Ni-based single-crystal superalloys are investigated in this article. The results show that the creep life of the pretreated samples is shorter than that of the original samples. The variation of the γ/γ′ morphology during the creep process is characterized by the microstructure period. Based on the interaction between the dislocations in the γ matrix channel and the γ′ phase, the difference in creep properties of the two oriented alloys after pretreatment is analyzed. Combined with the crystal plasticity theory and the number of activated slip systems observed in the experiments, it can be concluded that the two oriented alloys after pretreatment show obvious creep anisotropy and that the creep life increases with the number of activated slip system.
Uranium–35 wt.% zirconium (U–35 wt.% Zr) alloy was annealed for 1 h and 24 h at 650 °C and characterized to understand the early-stage microstructure evolution. Dendritic microstructure with fine (∼300 nm in length) α-U precipitates clustered between dendrite branches were observed in the 1-h annealed sample. After 24-h annealing at 650 °C, the α-U precipitates coarsened, and the dendritic microstructure disappeared because of microstructure homogenization. Furthermore, microchemical homogenization observed with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy analysis suggests that α-U precipitates are approaching thermodynamic equilibrium in the 24-h annealed sample. The findings from this study have potential impacts on the manufacturing and computer modeling of metallic nuclear fuel.