Characterizing Crystalline Materials in the SEM

  • Joseph I. Goldstein
  • Dale E. Newbury
  • Joseph R. Michael
  • Nicholas W. M. Ritchie
  • John Henry J. Scott
  • David C. Joy


While amorphous substances such as glass are encountered both in natural and artificial materials, most inorganic materials are found to be crystalline on some scale, ranging from sub-nanometer to centimeter or larger. A crystal consists of a regular arrangement of atoms, the so-called «unit cell,» which is repeated in a two- or three-dimensional pattern. In the previous discussion of electron beam–specimen interactions, the crystal structure of the target was not considered as a variable in the electron range equation or in the Monte Carlo electron trajectory simulation. To a first order, the crystal structure does not have a strong effect on the electron–specimen interactions. However, through the phenomenon of channeling of charged particles through the crystal lattice, crystal orientation can cause small perturbations in the total electron backscattering coefficient that can be utilized to image crystallographic microstructure through the mechanism designated «electron channeling contrast,» also referred to as «orientation contrast» (Newbury et al. 1986). The characteristics of a crystal (e.g., interplanar angles and spacings) and its relative orientation can be determined through diffraction of the high-energy backscattered electrons (BSE) to form «electron backscatter diffraction patterns (EBSD).


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph I. Goldstein
    • 1
  • Dale E. Newbury
    • 2
  • Joseph R. Michael
    • 3
  • Nicholas W. M. Ritchie
    • 2
  • John Henry J. Scott
    • 2
  • David C. Joy
    • 4
  1. 1.University of MassachusettsAmherstUSA
  2. 2.National Institute of Standards and TechnologyGaithersburgUSA
  3. 3.Sandia National LaboratoriesAlbuquerqueUSA
  4. 4.University of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA

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