Technique Development and Novel Applications in Atom Probe Tomography

Atom probe tomography (APT) is a high resolution mass spectrometry technique that gives nanoscale spatial information in 3D combined with up to ppm compositional sensitivity to all elements, including light elements such as hydrogen, deuterium and lithium [1]. The range of applications for APT has been steadily increasing from metals to ceramics, insulators, semiconductors, geological materials and more recently, environmentally sensitive materials such as soft matter, polymers and frozen liquid/solid interfaces. In addition to nanoscale compositional analyses, APT is also capable of isotopic analyses and these have been shown to be viable methods of applications where the regions of interest are smaller than could be analysed by conventional methods [2].

The Imperial Centre for Cryo Microscopy of Materials at Imperial College London is a specialized facility for the complementary high resolution analysis of environmentally sensitive materials, often those that require cryogenic sample preparation and analysis.

In this talk, I will discuss some of the technique development advances in APT towards the analysis of environmentally sensitive materials, especially those requiring Gas Injection System free Focused Ion Beam sample preparation [3]. I will also describe progress in the APT analysis of nanoscale isotopic variations within various material systems and comparisons with standard geological methods [4]



[1] Gault, B., Chiaramonti, A., Cojocaru-Mirédin, O. et al. Atom probe tomography. Nat Rev Methods Primers 1, 51 (2021).

[2] Gopon, P., Douglas, J.O., Auger, M.A., Hansen, L., Wade, J., Cline, J.S., Robb, L.J., Moody, M.P. ; A Nanoscale Investigation of Carlin-Type Gold Deposits: An Atom-Scale Elemental and Isotopic Perspective. Economic Geology 2019;; 114 (6): 1123–1133.

[3] Douglas, J.O.,  Conroy, M., Giuliani, F., Gault, B., In Situ Sputtering From the Micromanipulator to Enable Cryogenic Preparation of Specimens for Atom Probe Tomography by Focused-Ion Beam, Microscopy and Microanalysis, Volume 29, Issue 3 (2023).

[4] Gopon P, Douglas JO, Meisenkothen F, Singh J, London AJ, Moody MP. Atom Probe Tomography for Isotopic Analysis: Development of the 34S/32S System in Sulfides. Microscopy and Microanalysis. 2022.

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