Overcoming challenges associated with the analysis of nacre by atom probe tomography

Katja Eder*, Laura M. Otter, Limei Yang, Dorrit E. Jacob, Julie M. Cairney

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    In this study atom probe tomography was used to study nacre, an important biocomposite material that is challenging to prepare and analyse by atom probe and, when successful, yields data that is challenging to interpret. It was found that these challenges mainly arise from the insulating and heterogeneous nano-scale properties of nacre. We outline our current best practice for preparing and running atom probe tips, such as using a low acceleration voltage (< 3 kV) and current (≤ 50 pA) to avoid damage to the microstructure, and using transmission electron microscopy to confirm that the region of interest is located close to the apex of the atom probe tip. Optimisation of the preparation parameters led to several successful atom probe experiments, with one of the data sets containing part of an organic membrane and others showing organic inclusions within the reconstruction.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)385-395
    Number of pages11
    JournalGeostandards and Geoanalytical Research
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019
    EventInternational Conference on the Analysis of Geological and Environmental Materials (10th : 2018) - Sydney, Australia
    Duration: 8 Jul 201813 Jul 2018


    • biomineral
    • atom probe tomography
    • sample preparation
    • electron microscopy
    • focused ion beam


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