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The transmission electron microscope (TEM) is one of the most useful tools available to the materials scientist. Yet both the complexity and expense of the equipment, and the huge investment in time necessary to become proficient in specimen preparation and image acquisition and analysis, mean that it is difficult for most industrial institutions to maintain a state-of-the-art TEM facility. How can industry overcome this problem? One solution is to set up a collaboration with a university, an industrial partner, or a government research laboratory. Such collaborations can be extremely valuable to the company, which gains access to microscopes, specimen-preparation equipment and the expertise of professional microscopists, and to the research laboratory, which benefits from the industrial perspective and the private sector's proficiency in materials preparation and processing.
Such collaborations exist, and they can produce excellent results. In this article, we present three case studies in which successful collaboration has occurred between industry and one of the Department of Energy's scientific user facilities, the National Center for Electron Microscopy (NCEM-see sidebar). Our aim is not only to describe results that we hope will be of scientific interest but also to encourage industrial researchers to consider collaborations with institutes such as NCEM.
Giant Magnetoresistance, GMR, in thin metal films elicits attention due to its technological potential as well as its relevance to theory of exchange coupling. Epitaxial, phase-segregated ferromagnet/paramagnet Mixtures have been grown by UHV evaporation. Such films show spontaneous formation of ferromagnetic clusters, leading to large values of GMR (40% at room temperature) as grown. The growth of Co-Cu, Co-Ag, Fe-Ag and Permalloy-Ag films are described. Structural analysis by grazing-incidence small angle X-ray scattering (GISAXS) provides a measure of cluster size and characteristic spacing. Effects of growth temperature and subsequent annealing on GMR and film structure are described. Preliminary results of TEM examination of (001) Fe-Ag and Co-Ag granular films are presented for the first time.
The structure and morphology of 30° <100> tilt grain boundaries in tricrystal films of Al have been investigated by conventional and high resolution electron microscopy. By inducing heteroepitaxial growth on single crystal (111) Si substrates, Al formed polycrystalline thin films made of grains in three symmetry-related (100) orientations. The grain boundaries were well-faceted and a number of symmetric and asymmetric tilt boundaries and triple junctions were observed. Their morphology, topology and preferred faceting was related to the 12mm two-dimensional point symmetry of the tricrystal.
The growth of Al on (111) Si single crystal substrates by various techniques usually leads to films with (111) texture, sometimes with a small (100) component. Using X-ray diffraction and electron microscopy, the present study shows that the (100) texture component can be enhanced to the point of forming an oriented (100) continuous tricrystal structure. The formation of this texture is shown to be related the presence of Cu. It is concluded that an understanding of heteroepitaxy must take into account the effect of chemistry in addition to the crystallographic criteria of lattice matching.
It is shown that both icosahedral Al–Mn–Si and Mg–Al–Zn alloys give rise to the same variety of electron diffraction patterns as documented for icosahedral Al–Mn alloys. Subtle variations in intensity are ascribed to a different decorational motif in terms of the Mackay icosahedron and the Pauling triacontahedron. Icosahedral Al–Mn–Si alloys do not appear to be ordered on a superlattice basis.
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