To the untrained eye, the following colorful images might look like art, but they’re actually something unexpected: science. These are maps of metals such as titanium, nickel, and steel created using an electron microscope.
Jake Benzing, a materials research engineer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, uses a method called electron backscatter diffraction, or EBSD, to generate the colorful maps. The maps show you what the metals’ structure is actually like at a microscopic level, which is critical information because it allows scientists to determine if a metal component is reliable and make suggestions to improve it if it’s not.
Benzing uses the EBSD technique to analyze 3D-printed metals, which are created by relatively new technologies, as well as metals made by conventional manufacturing processes. And while the maps might just be something amazing to look it for most of us, they can have far-reaching implications that could affect transportation, biomedical devices, and safety.