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National Security Education Center


  • Institute Director
    Dan Thoma
    (505) 663-5627
  • Institute Deputy Director
    Bob Field
    (505) 663-5807
  • Institute Office Manager
    Lynn Chavez
    (505) 663-5233

3D Microscopy and Data Analysis and Visualization

3D OIM and Optical Microscopy

Typical manufacturing processes result in materials products that are three-dimensional in structure. However, all characterization routes for materials are two-dimensional or bulk-averaged. The 2-D characterization results in incomplete information on the microstructural evolution during processing, and as a result limits the linkage to the properties and performance of the component. This problem is particularly relevant for highly anisotropic materials used in advanced engineering applications. 3-D Microscopy is the microstructural/mesoscale link between a manufactured component and its three-dimensional properties and performance. The characterization link provides the ability to model, simulate, and validate components with real input parameters for computational-based evaluations.

Electron Tomography

Students within the Institute are working to establish a new stand-alone capability for 3-D Microscopy so that manufactured components can be characterized with a 3-D interpretation and visualization. The research is comprised three primary components necessary to complete this task: 1) serial sectioning and 2-D image acquisition, 2) recombination of 2-D serial sections for 3-D reconstruction, and 3) 3-D visualization. Data from light optical metallography and orientation imaging microscopy (OIM) are being analyzed and integrated using enhanced visualization techniques through UC Davis' Institute for Data Analysis and Visualization (IDAV). In addition, students are exploring the application of electron tomography to materials systems. This emerging technology has proved to be a powerful technique in biological systems and has the potential to extend 3-D microstructural analysis and visualization to the finer length scales that govern strength and ductility in engineering materials.

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