Atom probe study of grain boundary segregation in technically pure molybdenum
Journal article, 2014
Molybdenum, a metal with excellent physical, chemical and high-temperature properties, is an interesting material for applications in lighting-technology, high performance electronics, high temperature furnace construction and coating technology. However, its applicability as a structural material is limited because of the poor oxidation resistance at high temperatures and a brittle-to-ductile transition around room temperature, which is influenced by the grain size and the content of interstitial impurities at the grain boundaries. Due to the progress of the powder metallurgical production during the last decades, the amount of impurities in the current quality of molybdenum has become so small that surface sensitive techniques are not applicable anymore. Therefore, the atom probe, which allows the detection of small amounts of impurities as well as their location, seems to be a more suitable technique. However, a site-specific specimen preparation procedure for grain boundaries in refractory metals with a dual focused ion beam/scanning electron microscope is still required. The present investigation describes the development and successful application of such a site-specific preparation technique for grain boundaries in molybdenum, which is significantly improved by a combination with transmission electron microscopy. This complimentary technique helps to improve the visibility of grain boundaries during the last preparation steps and to evidence the presence of grain and subgrain boundaries without segregants in atom probe specimens. Furthermore, in industrially processed and recrystallized molybdenum sheets grain boundary segregation of oxygen, nitrogen and potassium is successfully detected close to segregated regions which are believed to be former sinter pores.
Grain boundary segregation
Atom probe tomography (APT)
Transmission electron microscopy
Focused ion beam (FIB) microscopy