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Processing and visualisation of large 3D geochemical atom probe datasets

This project aims to develop innovative software tools for analysing and extracting novel information from datasets acquired by the newly established Geoscience Atom Probe facility, situated within the John de Laeter Centre at Curtin University.

Atom probe microscopy (APM) is a powerful analysis tool for studying the 3D atomic-scale structure of materials. It can be used to visualise and analyse volumes containing up to several hundred million atoms, with each atom identified and positioned in 3D space. It is a powerful characterisation tool, being unique in its ability to provide three-dimensional chemical information on the atomic scale. However, there is currently an urgent need for development of software tools that can efficiently extract and analyse these large and complex data sets. Although some limited analysis tools currently exist, there is a broad scope for significant development in this area, to provide the capabilities necessary for the full application of the technique to trace element and isotopic abundances in geological materials.

The Geoscience Atom Probe facility at Curtin operates the first atom probe microscope to be dedicated to geoscience work. As such, there are many new and interesting applications within this field, and enormous potential for original research into outstanding scientific problems. Many of these advances will be achieved through the development of new and innovative data analysis methods.

Analysis of these massive datasets presents an interesting and rewarding challenge. An opportunity exists for an exceptional student to develop and experiment with computational techniques and algorithms to efficiently process APM data for the analysis of chemical clustering, crystallography, spatial correlation, and mass-spectrum deconvolution. The research will provide novel methods of extracting information from the 3D data sets, yielding new insights across many areas of current research.

Three-dimensional APM dataset
(a) Three-dimensional APM dataset showing Ga (green) and In (orange) atoms in a compound semiconductor structure. (b) 1nm (10-9m) cube volume extracted from the dataset in (a).