Three-dimensional Characterization and Analysis of Steel Microstructure by Serial Sectioning
In spite of well acknowledged needs for observing microstructure in three dimensions (3D), only sporadic attempts have been made of serial sectioning and 3D visualization of opaque materials microstructure. This situation is changing due to rapid developments of computer hardware and software for data collection and image analysis. This affords an opportunity of 3D characterization and quantification of microstructure with lesser amounts of effort, from which one can check assumptions made in 2D observations, compare results with stereological analyses, precisely determine topological properties and distribution functions, and check more directly various theories in materials science. In this report, recent studies in this area are reviewed with an emphasis on 3D visualization of steel microstructure. A combination of serial sectioning and computer-aided visualization is likely to be used more frequently in materials research in the future.