Applications of analytical electron microscopy to guide the design of boron carbide

Christopher J. Marvel, Qirong Yang, Scott D. Walck, Kelvin Y. Xie, Kristopher D. Behler, Jerry C. LaSalvia, Masashi Watanabe, Richard A. Haber, Martin P. Harmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Compositional analysis of boron carbide on nanometer length scales to examine or interpret atomic mechanisms, for example, solid-state amorphization or grain-boundary segregation, is challenging. This work reviews advancements in high-resolution microanalysis to characterize multiple generations of boron carbide. First, ζ-factor microanalysis will be introduced as a powerful (scanning) transmission electron microscopy ((S)TEM) analytical framework to accurately characterize boron carbide. Three case studies involving the application of ζ-factor microanalysis will then be presented: (1) accurate stoichiometry determination of B-doped boron carbide using ζ-factor microanalysis and electron energy loss spectroscopy, (2) normalized quantification of silicon grain-boundary segregation in Si-doped boron carbide, and (3) calibration of a scanning electron microscope X-ray energy-dispersive spectroscopy (XEDS) system to measure compositional homogeneity differences of B/Si-doped arc-melted boron carbides in the as-melted and annealed conditions. Overall, the improvement and application of advanced analytical tools have helped better understand processing–microstructure–property relationships and successfully manufacture high-performance ceramics.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2990-3007
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the American Ceramic Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Materials Chemistry


  • boron carbide
  • grain boundaries
  • transmission electron microscopy
  • ζ-factor microanalysis


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