Structure and phase analysis

© Fraunhofer IWM


We support you in ensuring the safe and long-term operation of crystalline materials. Structure and phase analyses can, for example, explain the performance of functional ceramics, make the sintering behavior of structural ceramics assessable and enable an evaluation of phase changes in steel materials, such as those that can occur in high-temperature applications, during deformation and due to corrosion.

The crystal structure and its phase composition play an important role for technical components and workpieces. This can influence mechanical, electrical, magnetic and other properties. Structure and phase analysis offers the possibility of correlating these properties with the crystals and microstructure, thus explaining changes in properties. X-ray, synchrotron or neutron radiation is used to generate diffractograms that provide information about the atomic arrangement in a polycrystalline component. In the laboratory, conditions can also be generated as they occur in real-world operation of the material or component. These in situ or operando experiments can be conducted with a specified temperature, electric field, magnetic field, mechanical load and many other external stimuli. This makes it possible, for example, to explain the effects of fluctuating process and operating conditions regarding structure and properties as well as to understand the mechanisms of functionality in order to improve the properties of materials and components.

Depending on the measurement method, different sample sizes and penetration depths can be measured. With laboratory X-ray equipment, only a few micrometers (1 - 100 µm) of the surface are usually accessible. Mappings of the structural analysis can be made by scanning the samples. Mobile X-ray devices can be used for on-site investigations. Synchrotron radiation usually generates higher energy levels and is therefore suitable for providing information from the inside of the material in transmission geometry. In addition, complex sample environments for in situ experiments are possible here. Neutron radiation can also be used to measure large samples or components in transition in order to obtain this information. Neutrons are also sensitive to the magnetic structure.


  •  Analysis and evaluation of the structure and phase composition of materials due to production and stress
  • Qualitative or quantitative analysis of the crystals and microstructure
  • In situ and operando experiments with different stimuli
  • Clarification of structure-property relationships
  • Experimental determination, simulation and evaluation of stresses, strains and texture in components
  • Characterization of materials in contact with hydrogen and analysis of degradation mechanisms

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Catalysts for cooperation

  • Abnormalities in production, test operation and use (e.g., strength reduction, cracking, corrosion, surface defects)
  • Failure analysis in combination with the other analysis options at the Fraunhofer IWM
  • Ensuring compliance with standards and specifications for materials and components
  • Clarification of changes in properties during operation due to external influences (thermal, mechanical, chemical, electrical, magnetic and coupled)
  • Quality assurance issues during the conversion of production processes
  • Production optimization with regard to foreign phases, inhomogeneities, precipitations and segregations
  • Evaluation of new materials with regard to manufacturability, corrosion, long-term stability, strength, dimensional accuracy, structural and functional properties
  • Targeted generation of optimum properties in production
  • Need for input data for modeling and material simulations
  • Need for quantitative evaluations of materials (e.g., phase proportions, texture, stresses, strains and phase identification)
  • Information regarding quantitative structure-property relationships
  • Functional characterization under real operating conditions (transport mechanisms, electric and magnetic fields, mechanical stress)

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  • Decision-making basis for the use of (replacement) materials
  • Approaches for increasing the performance of materials used (e.g., through pre-treatment, heat treatment, structural modification, etc.)
  • Specifications for improving manufacturing steps (process temperatures, manufacturing routes, heat treatment)
  • Suggestions for material or component optimization
  • Causes of damage and damage reports
  • Process optimization of powder metallurgical and ceramic production
  • Material development of functional materials for energy conversion

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