Analysis of the microstructure of bulk MgB2 using TEM, EBSD and t-EBSD

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Abstract

EBSD analysis can provide information about grain orientation, texture and grain boundary misorientation of bulk superconducting MgB2 samples intended for supermagnet applications. However, as the grain size of the MgB2 bulks is preferably in the 100–200 nm range, the common EBSD technique operating in reflection mode works only properly on highly dense samples. In order to achieve reasonably good Kikuchi pattern quality on all types of MgB2 samples, we apply here the newly developed transmission EBSD (t-EBSD) technique to spark-plasma sintered MgB2 samples. This method requires the preparation of TEM slices by means of focused ion-beam milling, which are then analysed within the SEM, operating with a custom-built sample holder. To obtain multiphase scans, we identified the Kikuchi pattern of the MgB4 phase which appears at higher reaction temperatures and may act as additional flux pinning sites. We present here for the first time EBSD mappings of multiple phases, which include MgB2, MgB4 and MgO. Lay Description: The electron backscatt er diffraction (EBSD) technique operating in the scanning electron microscope provides information on the crystallographic orientation the material by recording Kikuchi patterns. In polycrystalline samples, it becomes possible to analyse the orientations of the grains to each other. The metallic superconductor with the currently highest superconducting transition temperature, MgB2 with a Tc of 38.5 K, can be used in applications in polycrystalline form. One such application of interest are trapped field magnets or supermagnets, where the superconductor cooled in an applied magnetic field can trap the magnetic field as vortices at numerous flux pinning sites in the sample. When the external magnetic field is removed, the sample will stay magnetised as long as it is kept cool, and importantly, the trapped magnetic fields can be much higher as for any permanent magnet. However, the small size of the MgB2 grains in the 100–200 nanometre range requires a different approach when using the EBSD technique on such samples. The recently developed EBSD technique working in transmission mode (t-EBSD) helps considerably to image such materials. In this approach, a tiny TEM slice has to be milled out from the original sample by using focused ion beam milling. To understand the properties of the flux pinning in the spark-plasma sintered MgB2 sample, we had to identify the Kikuchi pattern of MgB4, which is another, non-superconducting phase appearing at higher reaction temperatures required to compact the material. Using this information, we could perform EBSD scans using three different phases, MgB2, MgB4 and MgO. The EBSD mappings enable to see where the secondary phase particles are located in the sample, and to judge if the particles could work as flux pinning sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-131
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Microscopy
Volume274
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jun

Keywords

  • EBSD
  • MgB
  • microstructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology

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