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Possibilities and Challenges of Scanning Hard X-ray Spectro-microscopy Techniques in Material Sciences

Synchrotron Soleil, BP 48, Saint-Aubin, Gif sur Yvette, 91192, France

Special Issues: X-ray microscopy in Materials Sciences

Scanning hard X-ray spectro-microscopic imaging opens unprecedented possibilities in the study of inhomogeneous samples at different length-scales. It gives insight into the spatial variation of the major and minor components, impurities and dopants of the sample, and their chemical and electronic states at micro- and nano-meter scales. Measuring, modelling and understanding novel properties of laterally confined structures are now attainable. The large penetration depth of hard X-rays (several keV to several 10 keV beam energy) makes the study of layered and buried structures possible also in in situ and in operando conditions. The combination of different X-ray analytical techniques complementary to scanning spectro-microscopy, such as X-ray diffraction, X-ray excited optical luminescence, secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) and nano-SIMS, provides access to optical characteristics and strain and stress distributions. Complex sample environments (temperature, pressure, controlled atmosphere/vacuum, chemical environment) are also possible and were demonstrated, and allow as well the combination with other analysis techniques (Raman spectroscopy, infrared imaging, mechanical tensile devices, etc.) on precisely the very same area of the sample. The use of the coherence properties of X-rays from synchrotron sources is triggering emerging experimental imaging approaches with nanometer lateral resolution. New fast analytical possibilities pave the way towards statistically significant studies at multi- length-scales and three dimensional tomographic investigations. This paper gives an overview of these techniques and their recent achievements in the field of material sciences.
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