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This work is supported by the National Science Foundation Metals and Nanostructures program under Award Number DMR1105173 and the Department of Energy Basic Energy Sciences under award DESC0002001. Use of the Advanced Photon Source is supported by the U. S. Department of Energy Office of Basic Energy Sciences, under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357. We use the computational resources of the NSF XSEDE supercomputer network.

  High Energy X-ray Diffraction Microscopy (HEDM):
Observing microstructure evolution inside of bulk materials


3D representation of local misorientations in a copper wire that has undergone light tensile strain (reference 3, below).

Table of Contents (modified November 2010)

  1. Publications
  2. Technique summary and schematic
  3. Apparatus at the Advaned Photon Source
  4. Examples of reconstructions (old)
  5. Overview

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  1. Three Dimensional Plastic Response in Polycrystalline Copper Via Near-Field High Energy X-ray Diffraction Microscopy, S.F. Li, J. Lind, C.M. Hefferan, R. Pokharel, U. Lienert, A. D. Rollett, and R. M. Suter, submitted.

  2. Observation of Recovery and Recrystallization in High Purity Aluminum Measured with Forward Modeling Analysis of High Energy Diffraction Microscopy, C.M. Hefferan, J. Lind, S.F. Li, U. Lienert, A.D. Rollett, R.M. Suter, to appear in Acta Materialia 2012.

  3. Experimental Tests of Stereological Estimates of Grain Boundary Populations, B.W. Reed, B.L. Adams, J.V. Bernier, C.M. Hefferan, A. Henrie, S.F. Li, J. Lind, R.M. Suter, M. Kumar, Acta Materialia, 60, 2999-3010 (2012).

  4. Quantifying damage accumulation using state-of-the-art FFT method, R. Pokharel, S.F. Li, J. Lind, C.M. Hefferan, U. Lienert, R.A. Lebensohn, R.M. Suter, and A.D. Rollett, Materials Science Forum, 702-703, 515-518 (2012).

  5. High-Energy Diffraction Microscopy at the Advanced Photon Source, U. Lienert, S.F. Li, C.M. Hefferan, J. Lind, R.M. Suter, J.V. Bernier, N.R. Barton, C. Brandes, M.J. Mills, M.P. Miller, B. Jakobsen, and W. Pantleon,  Journal of Materials, July 2011.

  6. Microstructural Characterization and Evolution in 3D, S.R. Wilson, C.M. Hefferan, S.F. Li, J. Lind, R.M. Suter and A.D. Rollett, Risoe 2010 Symposium proceedings, Challenges in materials science and possibilities in 3D and 4D characterization techniques, p. 201, N. Hansen, D. Juul Jensen, S.F. Nielsen, H.F. Poulsen, and B. Ralph, editors (2010).

  7. 3DXRD at the Advanced Photon Source: Orientation Mapping and Deformation Studies, U. Lienert, M.C. Brandes, J.V. Bernier, M.J. Mills, M.P. Miller, S.F. Li, C.M. Hefferan, J. Lind, R.M. Suter, Risoe 2010 Symposium proceedings, Challenges in materials science and possibilities in 3D and 4D characterization techniques, p. 59, N. Hansen, D. Juul Jensen, S.F. Nielsen, H.F. Poulsen, and B. Ralph, editors (2010).

  8. Tests of Microstructure Reconstruction by Forward Modeling of HEDM Data, C.M. Hefferan, S.F. Li, J. Lind, and R.M. Suter, Journal of Powder Diffraction, 25, 132-137 (2010).

  9. Statistics of High Purity Nickel Microstructure From High Energy X-ray Diffraction Microscopy, C.M. Hefferan, S.F. Li, J. Lind, U. Lienert, A.D. Rollett, P. Wynblatt, R.M. Suter, Computers, Materials and Continua, 14, 209-219 (2009).
  10. Probing Microstructure Dynamics With X-ray Diffraction Microscopy, R.M. Suter, C.M. Hefferan, S.F. Li, D. Hennessy, C. Xiao, U. Lienert, B. Tieman, J. Eng. Mater. Technol., 130, 021007 (2008); proceedings of the Materials Processing Defects-5 conference, Cornell University, July 2007).

  11. 3-Dimensional Characterization of Polycrystalline Bulk Materials Using High-Energy Synchrotron Radiation, U. Lienert, J. Almer, B. Jakobsen, W. Pantleon, H.F. Poulsen, D. Hennessy, C. Xiao, and R.M. Suter, Materials Science Forum 539-543, 2353-2358 (2007).

  12. Forward Modeling Method for Microstructure Reconstruction Using X-ray Diffraction Microscopy: Single Crystal Verification, R.M. Suter, D. Hennessy, C. Xiao, U. Lienert.  Reviews of Scientific Instruments, 77, 123905 (2006).
  13. Tracking: a method for structural characterization of grains in powders or polycrystals, E.M. Laurdisen, S. Schmidt, R.M. Suter, and H.F. Poulsen, J. Appl. Cryst., 34, 744-750 (2001).

  14. Three-dimensional maps of grain boundaries and the stress state of individual grains in polycrystals and powders, H.F. Poulsen, S.F. Nielsen, E.M. Lauridsen, S. Schmidt, R.M. Suter, U. Lienert, L. Margulies, T. Lorentzen, and D. Juul Jensen, J. Appl. Cryst., 34, 751-756 (2001).

  15. Future Trends: Texture Analysis for Structure-Sensitive Properties, B.L. Adams, D. Juul Jensen, H.F. Poulsen, and R. Suter, Materials Science Forum, 273-275, 29-40 (1998).

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Schematic and Outline of the Technique

  1.  Monochromatic high energy x-rays (energies 50 - 100 keV) are focused in the vertical direction to form a line-focused beam roughly 1 -2 microns high and about 1.3mm wide (red).
  2. This beam illuminates a thin planar section of the sample (green).
  3. Bragg spots (black) from individual grains are imaged on a CCD detector (gray); spots have the shape of the illuminated grain cross section projected onto the detector plane at the scattering angles 2q and f.
  4. Measuring a set of spots at multiple sample-to-detector distances yields the path of the diffracted beam and, by inversion, the position of the diffracting grain.
  5. Step-wise measurements over a range of sample orientations, w, yield multiple spots from each grain; this implies complete crystallographic orientation information and projected images of each grain from multiple points of view
schematic grid

  1. After image processing, our analysis code performs a simulation of the entire measurement and microstructure. The sample space is gridded (above right) and the crystallographic orientation in each grid element (or voxel) is adjusted to optimize the overlap of simulated Bragg scattering with the experimental data. The search algorithm works on each voxel independently making parallelization of the code straightforward.

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Apparatus at APS beamline 1-ID

Sample stage at 1-IDB.
  • CCD camera lens collects scintillation light off a 45 degree mirror.
  • LuAG scintillator and 45 degree mirror holder
  • Beam attenuator (holder extends from left)
  • Sample (above brass offset)
  • XYZ translations stage
  • Precitech air-bearing rotation stage
The Crew (March 2010)
The measurement crew (March 2010) at 1-ID command central

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Some examples of microstructure measurements using x-ray diffraction microscopy (updates are coming soon...Nov 2010)

All data shown here were collected at the Advanced Photon Source, beamline 1-ID at Argonne National Laboratory. Participants include Chris Hefferan, Frankie Li, Robert Suter (CMU) and Ulrich Lienert (APS). Important computational assistance was provided by Brian Tieman of the APS; analysis was performed using custom software developed at CMU running on a 68 node cluster at the APS.

Questions or comments? e-mail:

1. A section through the middle of a NIST certified 152 micron diameter single crystal ruby sphere.  a) The color map on the left shows misorientations from the average orientation.  Red-green-blue color contributions are proportional to the Rodrigues vector describing the misorientation.  The maximum rotation angle is 0.3 degrees. The green circle shows the nominal 152 micron sample cross-section while the hexagon shows the entire region included in the analysis. The maximum radial deviations are roughly 8 microns. b) The map on the right shows the 'confidence' fitting parameter indicating maximal overlap of the simulation with the experimental data in the central region and reduced overlap near the edges. This reduction is due to background subtraction removing weak edges of the imaged diffraction spots. This fit is based on simulation of 1118 ruby Bragg peaks about 115 of which could be observed at more than one detector distance in the experimental data set. A confidence of 0.79 means that over 90 simulated peaks overlap experimentally observed peaks; 0.33 confidence implies 38 overlaps.

ruby_z5_f5 ruby_z5_f5_confidence
Ruby sphere orientation map (expanded scale)
Relative confidence map for image at left


2. Near surface sections through an aluminum 1050 alloy polycrystal sample.
Colors indicate grain orientations, again coded by Rodrigues vector components. The blue circle indicates the 1 mm nominal sample diameter while the hexagon is the analysis box. Black lines in the maps are draw between elements with more than 5 degree misorientation.


  z = 0
z = -10um Al_ebsd_z1
Point-to-point crystallographic misorientation between the above two layer measurements. Black lines show boundaries in the z = 0 layer.

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Overview of relevance of HEDM microstructure mapping techniuqe

Polycrystals are aggregates of single crystals joined together by a network of internal interfaces called grain boundaries. Polycrystalline materials, in both single and multi-phase forms, are ubiquitous in engineered systems: integrated circuits, aircraft and automotive components, communications devices, machine tools, and many others. The three dimensional geometry, arrangement, and relative orientation of the grains and the consequent grain boundary network (i.e., the microstructure) are crucial determinants of mechanical, chemical, thermal, and electrical properties. While there has been dramatic progress made in gaining three dimensional information about microstructure from two dimensional measurements made at surfaces (CMU MRSEC), it remains a great challenge to be able to watch microstructural evolution in response to external stimuli. With such observations made deep inside bulk materials, we should be able to deepen our understanding of phenomena and develop accurate constitutive relations governing the evolution and thereby learn how to do predictive calculations and to tailor microstructures to specific applications.

Three Dimensional X-ray Diffraction Microscopy (see articles listed above and the monograph by H.F. Poulsen, "Three Dimensional X-ray Diffraction Microscopy," Springer, 2004) is the only method available that can non-destructively image macroscopic volumes of internal microstructures. Based simply on Bragg diffraction, it is as versatile as, for example, electron backscatter diffraction analysis of surface microstructures. But by using high energy x-rays, it looks through millimeters of  material without the need for destructive serial sectioning. Similar to serial sectioning work, measurements are done layer-by-layer. After the measurement, the sample still exists and can be re-measured after processing. Real-time dynamics can be monitored. The x-rays can penetrate sample chambers, making in-situ measurements possible. In sum, high energy x-ray diffraction microscopy (HEDM) promises to open the world of microstructure dynamics and response to a new light. In combination with powerful new computational tools, one can look forward to a new level of understanding and a new level of "dynamic three dimensional command over materials structure," (ONR BAA 04-024) processing, and properties.

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