Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) with in situ ion irradiation is unique amongst experimental techniques in allowing the direct observation of the internal microstructure of materials on the nanoscale whilst they are being subjected to bombardment with energetic particles. Invaluable insights into the underlying atomistic processes at work can be gained through direct investigation of radiation induced and enhanced effects such as: phase changes and segregation; mechanical and structural changes; atomic/layer mixing and chemical disorder; compositional changes; chemical reactions; grain growth and shrinkage; precipitation and dissolution; defect/bubble formation, growth, motion, coalescence, removal and destruction; ionisation; diffusion; and collision cascades. The experimental results obtained can be used to validate the predictions of computational models which in turn can elucidate the mechanisms behind the phenomena seen in the microscope. It is 50 years since the first TEM observations of in situ ion irradiation were made by D.W. Pashley, A.E.B. Presland and J.W. Menter at the Tube Investment Laboratories in Cambridge, United Kingdom and 40 years since the first interfacing of an ion beam system with a TEM by P.A. Thackery, R.S. Nelson and H.C. Sansom at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell, United Kingdom. In that time the field has grown with references in the literature to around thirty examples of such facilities. This paper gives an overview of the importance of the technique, especially with regard to the current challenges faced in understanding radiation damage in nuclear environments; a description of some of the important construction elements and design considerations of TEMs with in situ ion irradiation; a brief history of the development of this type of instrument; a summary of the facilities built around the world over the last half century; and finally a focus on the instruments in operation today.
|Number of pages
|Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms
|Published - 1 Dec 2009