Recently, the increasing importance and scope of nanotechnology has extended the need for high resolution characterisation tools beyond their traditional domains. As a consequence, advanced high-resolution tools at the nanoscale are now increasingly used in research and development
(R&D) activities, offering the chance for a better understanding of submicron feature size dependence. This paper gives an overview of the synergic application of two high resolution techniques on the platinum group metals (pgms): focused ion beam (FIB) coupled with electron beam imaging,
milling and deposition techniques; and nanoindentation testing. After a brief description of both techniques (architecture, probe-sample interaction basics and operation modes), the effectiveness of this combined approach is demonstrated for microstructural and nanomechanical investigations
on very small samples. The advantages are low cost, fast and site-specific sample preparation for transition electron microscopy (TEM) analysis; study of the mechanical hardening effect on microstructure and hardness profile at the micron scale; failure analysis; and understanding of plasticity
and elasticity behaviour. Two specific case studies related to a platinum-copper alloy for jewellery use and a platinum-rhodium alloy for sensor manufacturing are presented and discussed.
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