Professor Baptiste Gault


A journey into atom probe tomography


Atom probe tomography (APT) is a microanalysis technique that provides compositional mapping of materials in three-dimensions with near-atomic resolution. It is increasingly used to probe the local distribution of species in complex materials to relate them to their physical, catalytic or mechanical properties. APT’s strength lies in its ability to measure minute amounts of almost any species, from hydrogen to uranium, including at buried interfaces that often exhibit complex shapes in three-dimensions making them challenging for other techniques. As such it is a perfect complement to e.g. transmission electron microscopy, secondary-ion mass spectrometry or X-ray photoemission spectroscopy. In this inaugural lecture, I will go back to the origins of this technique that remained rather arcane for a few decades but is now burgeoning. Along the way, I will reflect on my own contribution to the development and application of atom probe, drawing examples from recent frontier applications on hydrogen mapping, frozen liquids or at the interface with solids found in batteries enabled by the most recent developments around cryogenic specimen preparation and transfer – now possible at Imperial

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