How TEM Projection Artifacts Distort Microstructure Measurements: A Case Study in a 9 pct Cr-Mo-V Steel


Morphological data obtained from two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) transmission electron microscopy (TEM) observations were compared to assess the effects of TEM projection errors for submicron-size precipitates. The microstructure consisted of M23C6 carbides in a 9 pct Cr-Mo-V heat resistant steel before and after exposure to creep conditions. Measurements obtained from about 800 carbides demonstrate that particle size and spacing estimates made from 2D observations overestimate the more accurate values obtained from 3D reconstructions. The 3D analysis also revealed the M23C6 precipitates lengthen anisotropically along lath boundary planes, suggesting that coarsening during the early stage of creep in this alloy system is governed by grain boundary diffusion.

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This work was funded as part of the National Energy Technology Laboratory’s Regional University Alliance (NETL-RUA), a collaborative initiative of the NETL, this technical effort was performed under the RES contract. The U.S. Department of Energy (DE-FG02-06ER15786) provided financial support for instrumentation. Support was also provided by the Nanoscale Characterization and Fabrication Laboratory of the Institute of Critical Technology and Applied Sciences, Virginia Tech.

This report was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States Government. Neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or any agency thereof. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof.

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Correspondence to Niven Monsegue.

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Manuscript submitted October 28, 2013.

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Monsegue, N., Reynolds, W.T., Hawk, J.A. et al. How TEM Projection Artifacts Distort Microstructure Measurements: A Case Study in a 9 pct Cr-Mo-V Steel. Metall and Mat Trans A 45, 3708–3713 (2014) doi:10.1007/s11661-014-2331-0

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  • Carbide
  • Creep Testing
  • Lath Boundary
  • Projection Error
  • High Angle Annular Dark Field