Beauty of science: sintering of copper powder

25-10-2013

Diffraction contrast tomography is a near-field variant of 3DXRD - 3D X-ray diffraction. It combines X-ray diffraction with absorption contrast tomography and allows the mapping of position, shape and crystallographic orientation of polycrystals. In the given example, DCT is used to follow the evolution of the microstructure during the sintering of copper. Sintering is a method to produce objects from powders by heating these below the melting point. The copper atoms diffuse into the pores in between the particles and ultimately create a solid piece. The performance of the final product depends on the sintering conditions and therefore benefits from studying this process.

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The picture shows a reconstruction from diffraction contrast tomography (DCT) data of a copper powder sample, taken at beamline ID11. The individual copper particles contain several grains, small crystals of different crystallographic orientation. Changes in position, shape and orientation of the crystals occur due to heating, thus revealing particle movement and grain growth during the process.

Top image: Sintering of copper powder. Image credit: Stefan Schmiederer.