X-ray microscopy (XRM) has emerged as a powerful technique that reveals 3D images and quantitative information of interior structures. XRM executed both in the laboratory and at the synchrotron have demonstrated critical analysis and materials characterization on meso-, micro-, and nanoscales, with spatial resolution down to 50 nm in laboratory systems. The non-destructive nature of X-rays has made the technique widely appealing, with potential for “4D” characterization, delivering 3D micro- and nanostructural information on the same sample as a function of sequential processing or experimental conditions. Understanding volumetric and nanostructural changes, such as solid deformation, pore evolution, and crack propagation are fundamental to understanding how materials form, deform, and perform. We will present recent instrumentation developments in laboratory based XRM including a novel in situ nanomechanical testing stage. These developments bridge the gap between existing in situ stages for micro scale XRM, and SEM/TEM techniques that offer nanometer resolution but are limited to analysis of surfaces or extremely thin samples whose behavior is strongly influenced by surface effects. Several applications will be presented including 3D-characterization and in situ mechanical testing of polymers, metal alloys, composites and biomaterials. They span multiple length scales from the micro- to the nanoscale and different mechanical testing modes such as compression, indentation and tension.
X-ray computed tomography (XCT) is a powerful nondestructive 3D imaging technique, which enables the visualization of the three dimensional structure of complex, optically opaque samples. High resolution XCT using Fresnel zone plate lenses has been confined in the past to synchrotron radiation centers due to the need for a bright and intense source of x-rays. This confinement severely limits the availability and accessibility of x-ray microscopes and the wide proliferation of this methodology. We are describing a sub-50nm resolution XCT system operating at 8 keV in absorption and Zernike phase contrast mode based on a commercially available laboratory x-ray source. The system utilizes high-efficiency Fresnel zone plates with an outermost zone width of 35 nm and 700 nm structure height resulting in a current spatial resolution better than 50 nm. In addition to the technical description of the system and specifications, we present application examples in the semiconductor field.
Channel-cut monochromators can be easily incorporated in high-resolution image techniques. However, polishing on the inner diffracting surfaces is difficult because of blockage by the opposite face. To address this difficulty, an open-faced monolithic monochromator has been designed, produced and tested using x-rays at the Advanced Photon Source (APS). The open-faced channel cut has a “Z”-shape geometry with a hole in the mid section to allow passage of the diffracted beam. The open geometry allowed chemical mechanical polishing so that an optically smooth finish on both surfaces was achieved. The high-resolution x-ray imaging and topography measurements revealed that the new design introduces significantly less distortions in the phase-contrast images compared with conventional channel-cut monochromators produced using etching alone.