Applications of Real Space Crystallography in Characterization of Dislocations in Geological Materials in a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM).

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Imaging and characterization of defects in crystalline materials is of significant importance in various disciplines including geoscience, materials science, and applied physics. Linear defects such as dislocations and planar defects such as twins and stacking faults, strongly influence many of the properties of crystalline materials and also reflect the conditions and degree of deformation. Dislocations have been conventionally imaged in thin foils in a transmission electron microscope (TEM). Since the development of field emission scanning electron microscopes (FE-SEM) with high gun brightness and small spot size, extensive efforts have been dedicated to the imaging and characterization of dislocations in semi-conductors using electron channeling contrast imaging (ECCI) in the SEM. The obvious advantages of using SEM over TEM include easier and non-destructive sample preparation and a large field of view enabling statistical examination of the density and distribution of dislocations and other defects. In this contribution, we extend this technique to geological materials and introduce the Real Space Crystallography methodology for imaging and complete characterization of dislocations based on bend contour contrast obtained by ECCI in FE-SEM. Bend contours map out the distortion in the crystal lattice across a deformed grain. The contrast of dislocations is maximum in the vicinity of bend contours where crystal planes diffract at small and positive deviations from the Bragg positions (as defined by Bragg's law of electron diffraction). Imaging is performed in a commercial FE-SEM equipped with a standard silicon photodiode backscattered (BSE) detector and an electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) system for crystal orientation measurements. We demonstrate the practice of this technique in characterization of a number of geological materials in particular quartz, forsterite olivine and corundum, experimentally deformed at high pressure-temperature conditions. This new approach in microstructure characterization of deformed geologic materials in FE-SEM, without the use of etching or decoration techniques, has valuable applications to both experimentally deformed and naturally deformed specimens.