Metallic or ceramic coatings are often applied to protect or strengthen an underlying base material. Microstructural analysis of such materials in cross-section by EBSD requires that the contact between the substrate and the coating is planar, and the true structure of both phases is undistorted and continuous to the surface. Specimens with porous substrate materials are especially challenging to prepare because of the increased risk of pulling out grains and retaining coarse polishing particles inside the pores that cause scratches during subsequent polishing steps.
Gatan PECS™ II Broad Beam Ion Mill and EDAX Hikari Super EBSD System with APEX™ 2.0 Software
Materials and Methods
After routine mechanical polishing, a porous ZnAl alloy with a dual-layer copper plating was mounted in the PECS II and milled using 5kV Ar ions at an incident angle of 3° for 30 min, followed by 60 min with 4 kV. The long duration was required to remove an oxide layer from the ZnAl matrix material. Some scratches are still visible in the softer Cu coating, but milling was stopped to minimize side-milling of the coating and pores. After milling, the surface of both materials was flat and suitable for EBSD mapping.
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