, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 156-169

Microstructural characterization of polycrystalline materials by synchrotron X-rays

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Third generation synchrotron X-rays provide an unprecedented opportunity for microstructural characterization of many engineering materials as well as natural materials. This article demonstrates the usage of three techniques for the study of structural materials: differential-aperture X-ray microscopy (DAXM), three-dimensional X-ray diffraction (3DXRD), and simultaneous wide angle/small angle X-ray scattering (WAXS/SAXS). DAXM is able to measure the 3D grain structure in polycrystalline materials with high spatial and angular resolution. In a deformed material, streaked diffraction peaks can be used to analyze local dislocation content in individual grains. Compared to DAXM, 3DXRD is able to map grains in bulk materials more quickly at the expense of spatial resolution. It is very useful for studying evolving microstructures when the materials are under deformation. WAXS/SAXS is suitable for studying materials with inhomogeneous structure, such as precipitate strengthened alloys. Structural information revealed by WAXS and SAXS can be combined for a deeper insight into material behavior. Future development and applications of these three techniques will also be discussed.