PerspectiveMaterials Science

Imaging Elusive Solute Atoms

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Science  17 Dec 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5448, pp. 2285-2286
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5448.2285

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In 1948, Cottrell developed a theory in which the strength of iron was explained by the formation of "atmospheres" of carbon atoms around dislocations in the crystal lattice. It took more than 50 years for his theory to be verified experimentally. Blavette et al. (page 2317) use a three-dimensional atom probe to determine the distribution of individual boron atoms around a dislocation in FeAl, providing the first full experimental description of a Cottrell atmosphere. The study illustrates the power of three-dimensional atom probes for resolving the properties of materials on an atomic scale.

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