A deeper understanding of how microstructure affects material properties requires information on evolving 3D structures. At present, however, the majority of such information is based on static pictures and 2D data. The reliability of structural components such as batteries, nuclear components and turbine blades are often limited by fatigue, fracture, and creep failure, in ways that are complex, and beyond simple textbook models. Combining in-situ x-ray imaging methods with simulations of microstructures and their dynamics promises to elevate our understanding of microstructure-property relationships in such systems.
High-energy x-rays from 3rd generation synchrotron sources, including the APS, possess a unique combination of high penetration power with high spatial, reciprocal space, and temporal resolution. These characteristics can be used to image microstructure with both traditional radiography and scattering modalities under a variety of environments. Over the past decade, the X-ray Science Division at the APS has developed specialized programs for these purposes, namely (i) absorption-based tomography, (ii) high-energy diffraction microscopy (HEDM), in which grain and sub-grain volumes are mapped in polycrystalline aggregates, and (iii) combined small-and wide-angle x-ray scattering (SAXS/WAXS) which permits information over a broad range of length scales to be collected from the same volume. Applications of these techniques to study structural materials are presented.