Confocal fluorescence microscopy in alumina-based ceramics: Where does the signal come from?
Journal article, 2010
Confocal Cr(3+) fluorescence microscopy is an ideal technique for investigating residual stresses in alumina-based ceramics. Due to their transparency, however, it is important to understand where the collected signal comes from by characterising the probe response function (PRF). Here, a PRF is proposed that captures all the relevant physical effects, including a newly identified consequence of scattering by pores and grain boundaries. The new PRF describes the response of a range of alumina-based ceramics to depth scanning in a high resolution confocal fluorescence microscope in a manner that balances physical significance with the accuracy of empirical fitting. The results showed that measurements could be made deep within single crystals of sapphire and ruby, although refraction degraded the depth resolution from about 3 mu m at the surface to 25 mu m at a depth of 500 mu m. Scattering and absorption limited the depth to which polycrystalline alumina could be probed to similar to 15 mu m. This was further reduced to similar to 4 mu m for an alumina-10 vol.% SiC nanocomposite. However, the absorption increased the accuracy of near surface measurements in these materials by preventing contamination from subsurface fluorescence. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.