Flat ion milling: a powerful tool for preparation of cross-sections of lead-silver alloys.Microscopy (Oxf). 2013 Jun; 62(3):411-8.M
While conventional mechanical and chemical polishing results in stress, deformation and polishing particles embedded on the surface, flat milling with Ar+ ions erodes the material with no mechanical artefacts. This flat milling process is presented as an alternative method to prepare a Pb-Ag alloy cross-section for scanning electron microscopy. The resulting surface is free of scratches with very little to no stress induced, so that electron diffraction and channelling contrast are possible. The results have shown that energy dispersive spectrometer (EDS) mapping, electron channelling contrast imaging and electron backscatter diffraction can be conducted with only one sample preparation step. Electron diffraction patterns acquired at 5 keV possessed very good pattern quality, highlighting an excellent surface condition. An orientation map was acquired at 20 keV with an indexing rate of 90.1%. An EDS map was performed at 5 keV, and Pb-Ag precipitates of sizes lower than 100 nm were observed. However, the drawback of the method is the generation of a noticeable surface topography resulting from the interaction of the ion beam with a polycrystalline and biphasic sample.