Material world matters

Physical Methods for Materials Characterisation. Second edition
November 26, 2004

Materials science comprises four core areas of expertise: characterisation, properties, modelling and processing. Traditional metallurgy made enormous strides in elucidating the relationship between mechanical properties and the characterisation of grain structure, the size and distribution of second phases, and the nature and behaviour of dislocations.

Recent advances in the discipline of materials have added to this the ability to observe, model and control the nanostructure, in many cases on the scale of individual molecules and atoms. In the department of materials at Oxford University no less than three distinct techniques have for many years been in routine use for imaging the nanostructure of materials with atomic resolution.

The best materials courses for undergraduates and first-year graduate students offer advanced options in materials characterisation. This book “is directed primarily to senior undergraduate students and postgraduate workers to facilitate an appreciation of the underlying theory, the selection and application of the range of techniques available to examine a microstructural feature.”

The first edition (1994) arose from discussion of the significant progress made in techniques for materials characterisation during the previous decade.

The new edition aims to reflect instrumental developments, such as scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), of which the authors were formerly less aware, together with other techniques for nanoscale analysis and advances in computer handling of information.

After reading for a while I wondered whether the difficulties I was having were due to errors in the text or to my faulty memory. Figure 4.41 shows a picture of what I recognise as a goniometer, but it is described in the text as a ganimeter. The description of stress contains a glorious mixture of engineering elastic constants and tensors, with the Kršnecker delta function not defined and misindexed. The index refers us to “gallium-arsenic” (sic), also with the wrong page number. STM pictures of a Si(111)-(7x7) silicon surface are described as indicating that the surface contains many defects, but it looks perfect to me (though the accompanying AFM image does indeed contain defects). We are told that STM works nearly as well at atmospheric pressure as in UHV and that you should bake at 2C - in my lab, it doesn’t and you don’t. (Colin) Humphreys is referenced as Humphrey, and Allan Rosencwaig is misspelt as Rosencraige - but you cannot check because his 1980 paper is missing from the list of references.

A previous review commended the first edition for its balance between comprehensiveness and depth, with its introductory chapters on materials and their interaction with radiation, a practical chapter on vacuum, and review chapters on different sources and their uses in microscopy. This text contains no additional online or CD material and no sets of problems. At £37.50, it will be interesting to see how many students fork out for it.

Andrew Briggs is professor of nanomaterials, Oxford University.

Physical Methods for Materials Characterisation. Second edition

Author - P. E. J. Flewitt and R. K. Wild
Publisher - IoP Publishing
Pages - 602
Price - £37.50
ISBN - 0 7503 0808 7

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