Seeing and Measuring Nanoscale Pores in Industrial Materials

Seeing and Measuring Nanoscale Pores in Industrial Materials

Scientific Achievement
Helium Ion Imaging and porosity quantification. (a) Helium Ion Image of the catalyst support surface. (b) Automatically detected pores (in red) on the catalyst surface. (c) Color map of the pore area diameter (in nanometers ) for the image shown in (a).  (hi-res image)

We demonstrate a method to directly observe and measure porosity of nonconductive surfaces at the nanoscale, without any sample pre-treatment.

Significance and Impact

Our method compares within 1% of industry standard measurements, and gives superior insights into surface structure including direct high-resolution pore visualization, pore size distribution, and pore coverage.

Research Details

– Porous materials are key for a vast number of applications in energy, drug delivery, and agriculture.
– The standard industrial way to measure porosity is by using Gas Absorption – a robust method which lacks high throughput and offers no direct surface visualization.
– Helium Ion Microscopy allows direct imaging of pores at the nanoscale without any sample treatment. Data analytics is then used to quantify pore size and distribution in images.

M. J. Burch, A. V. Ievlev, K. Mahady, H. Hysmith, P. D. Rack, A. Belianinov, and O. S. Ovchinnikova, "Helium ion microscopy for imaging and quantifying porosity at the nanoscale," Anal. Chem. 90, 1370-1375 (2018). DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b04418

CNMS Researchers