Today, modern quantitative microstructural analysis encompasses much more than the classical methods, because high-resolution and also correlative methods of microscopy and tomography, combined with new methods of digital image processing and analysis are the key. Serial section tomographies are among the most versatile and powerful methods for three-dimensional microstructure characterization. Tailored ablation, imaging, and contrasting techniques can be used to analyze a volume range (nm to mm) representative of the microstructure in question and a wide range of very different materials and also their composites in microstructure-adapted, variable resolution.
The properties of modern materials depend strongly on their microstructure. The term microstructure describes the entire internal structure of the material on the micro-, nano-, and atomic scale. The microstructure can therefore be regarded as an intrinsic multiscale memory which, if it can be read out at all scales, allows conclusions to be drawn about the processes forming the microstructure and enables the properties of the material to be predicted. New tomographic techniques allow for the first time a three-dimensional insight into the microstructure on all scales of the microstructure and simultaneously up to the size of the representative volume element. Serial sectioning techniques in the Focused Ion Beam Microscope (FIB/REM tomography), but also metallographic serial sections in the light microscope enjoy increasing popularity due to their versatile contrast mechanisms and variable resolution and are constantly being further developed. Improved experimental possibilities only mean progress if the analysis possibilities improve to the same extent. Further development of image processing and segmentation techniques are the key to the reliable, reproducible, and less time-consuming analysis of the acquired data. The Working Group Serial Section Tomography is part of the Expert Forum 3D Microstructural Analysis and Tomography in the Expert Committee Materialography. Here, all aspects of cross-scale 3D imaging, reconstruction, analysis, simulation, and visualization of material microstructures shall be addressed and the professional exchange of experts, as well as an interdisciplinary collaboration in this field, shall be facilitated. Interesting scientific issues, both in the field of basic and applied research, will be identified in the meetings of the Working Groups and joint projects will be initiated. The results are presented and discussed in joint symposia at national and international scientific conferences.
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