This review article summarizes recent advances in emerging three-dimensional (3D) imaging techniques and their applications to polymer-related materials such as nanocomposites and block copolymer morphologies. We will put particular emphasis on the transmission electron microtomography (TEMT) and a novel "meso-scale" 3D imaging technique, scanning electron microscopy combined with a focused ion beam (FIB-SEM). With some recent developments made in TEMT, it is now possible to obtain truly quantitative 3D data in sub-nanometer resolution. The FIB-SEM is capable of taking μm-size volume data with the spatial resolution of the order of 10 nm. Combination of TEMT, FIB-SEM and optical microscopy allows us to perform seamless 3D imaging from nm to μm. A great deal of new structural information, which has never been obtained from conventional microscopy or various scattering methods, can be evaluated directly from the 3D volume data. With the combination of TEMT and the scattering, it becomes possible to study structures that have not been characterized before. The structural information obtained from the 3D imaging provides a good opportunity not only to gain essential insights into the physics of self-assembling processes and the statistical mechanics of long chain molecules but also to establish the "structure-property" relationships in polymeric materials.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
- Materials Science (miscellaneous)
- Environmental Science(all)
- Polymers and Plastics