2 Scopus citations


Focused ion beam and scanning electron microscope (FIB-SEM) instruments are extensively used to characterize nanoscale composition of composite materials, however, their application to analysis of organic corrosion barrier coatings has been limited. The primary concern that arises with use of FIB to mill organic materials is the possibility of severe thermal damage that occurs in close proximity to the ion beam impact. Recent research has shown that such localized artefacts can be mitigated for a number of polymers through cryogenic cooling of the sample as well as low current milling and intelligent ion beam control. Here we report unexpected nonlocalized artefacts that occur during FIB milling of composite organic coatings with pigment particles. Specifically, we show that FIB milling of pigmented polysiloxane coating can lead to formation of multiple microscopic voids within the substrate as far as 5 μm away from the ion beam impact. We use further experimentation and modelling to show that void formation occurs via ion beam heating of the pigment particles that leads to decomposition and vaporization of the surrounding polysiloxane. We also identify FIB milling conditions that mitigate this issue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)316-325
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Microscopy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Heating artefacts
  • Paints
  • Pigments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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