3D Reconstruction of Ni4Ti3 Precipitates in a Ni51Ti49 Alloy in a FIB/SEM Dual-Beam System
Ni4Ti3 precipitates play an important role in the shape memory and superelastic behaviour of thermo-mechanically treated Ni-Ti material. The 3D morphology and distribution of such precipitates with lenticular shape and rhombohedral atomic structure in the austenitic B2 matrix of a binary Ni-rich Ni-Ti alloy has been elucidated via a slice & view procedure in a Dual-Beam FIB/SEM system. With the sequence of cross-section SE images obtained from the SEM, a 3D reconstruction has been achieved after proper alignment and image processing, from which both qualitative and quantitative analysis can be performed. Careful imaging is needed to ensure that all variants of the precipitates are observed with equal probability, regardless sample orientation. Moreover, due to the weak contrast of the precipitates, proper imaging conditions need to be selected to allow for semi-automated image treatment. Finally, a volume ratio of 10.2% for the Ni4Ti3 precipitates could be calculated, summed over all variants, which yields a net composition of Ni50.36Ti49.64 for the matrix, leading to an increase of 113 degrees for the martensitic start temperature Ms. Also, the expected relative orientation of the different variants of the precipitates could be confirmed. In the near future, other quantitative measures on the distribution of the precipitates can be expected.
S. S. Cao et al., "3D Reconstruction of Ni4Ti3 Precipitates in a Ni51Ti49 Alloy in a FIB/SEM Dual-Beam System ", Materials Science Forum, Vol. 583, pp. 277-284, 2008