Metallographic Specimen Preparation for Electron Backscattered Diffraction


Electron backscattered diffraction (EBSD) is performed with the scanning electron microscope (SEM) to provide a wide range of analytical data; e.g., crystallographic orientation studies, phase identification and grain size measurements. A diffraction pattern can be obtained in less than a second, but image quality is improved by utilizing a longer scan time. Grain mapping requires development of diffraction patterns at each pixel in the field and is a slower process. The quality of the diffraction pattern, which influences the confidence of the indexing of the diffraction pattern, depends upon removal of damage in the lattice due to specimen preparation. It has been claimed that removal of this damage can only be obtained using electrolytic polishing or ionbeam polishing. However, the use of modern mechanical preparation methods, equipment and consumables does yield excellent quality diffraction patterns without use of dangerous electrolytes and the problems and limitations associated with electropolishing and ion-beam polishing. Basically, if mechanical preparation results in quality polarized light images of noncubic crystal structure elements and alloys (e.g., Sb, Be, Hf, -Ti, Zn, Zr), or color tint etching of cubic, or non-cubic crystal structure elements or alloys produces high-quality color images, then the surface is free of harmful residual preparation damage and EBSD patterns with high pattern quality indexes will be obtained. Because of the acute angle between the specimen and the electron beam (70 – 74 ), exceptional surface flatness is also necessary for best results.


The articles and presentations that can be down-loaded from this web site are based upon work done by GFV while employed at Bethlehem Steel (1967-1983), Carpenter Technology (1983-1996), Buehler Ltd. (1996-2009) and Struers (2009-Present) and from the authors consulting work for companies such as, Latrobe Steel, Scot Forge, etc., and from his litigation work. GFV's bylined articles appearing in various issues of the ASM Handbook series have been listed here courtesy of ASM International, Materials Park, Ohio.