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Atom Probe Tomography


The Atom Probe Tomography Group focuses on applying this burgeoning microscopy and microanalysis technique to a wide range of advanced materials, with an emphasis on correlating the information gleaned from APT with other experimental and computational techniques. The group has strong ties with numerous groups within MPIE, in particular with Mechanism-based Alloy Design, Alloys for Additive Manufacturing, Materials Science of Mechanical Contacts, High-entropy alloys, Computational Phase Studies and the independent Nanoanalytics and Interfaces research group.

The Research Group for Atom Probe Tomography at the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung was established following the installation of a Local Electrode Atom Probe Cameca LEAP 3000X HR in  2009. In August 2015, a second instrument, a LEAP 5000 XS was the first of its kind installed in the world, followed in February by a LEAP 5000 XR. Their wide field-of-view, increased detection efficiency and new generation of UV lasers has already allowed a broadening of the range of application of the technique. These instruments are complemented by two FEI Helios Dual Beam SEM/FIB (600/600i) and a FEI Helios PFIB.


Atom Probe Tomography (APT) is a high-resolution characterization technique that provides three-dimensional elemental mapping with near-atomic resolution. Insights from APT help understand phase formation & transformations, segregation at interfaces, partitioning between phases etc. The group aims to advance the understanding of structural and functional advanced materials behaviour by using the atomic-scale information obtained from APT, and has developed strengths in correlative approaches, as highlighted in the image below.

Protocol to correlate electron microscopy and atom probe tomograph.

The two LEAP 5000 XS and XR are part of a world unique setup allowing for controlled transport of APT specimens from a glovebox to a scanning-electron microscope / focused ion beam to one of the two LEAPs via a ultra-high-vacuum suitcase. Transport of specimens can also be performed at cryogenic temperatures. This infrastructure was funded jointly by the BMBF and the MPG and is schematically depicted in the picture below.

Instrument suite constituting the Laplace project
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