Best practices for reporting atom probe analysis of geological materials
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The application of atom probe tomography (APT) within the Earth and planetary sciences has produced novel data sets that answer fundamental questions about the near-atomic scale distribution of elements and isotopes within minerals. It involves the incremental evaporation, detection, and subsequent computer reconstruction of charged particles from a needle-shaped specimen. The range of applications is growing such that protocols for reporting are needed for APT data comparison and quality assessment among natural materials. A particular challenge of APT science relates to documenting the instrumental and analyst-dependent conditions that affect the mass spectral and spatial qualities of the data and their interpretation. This contribution outlines recommended data reporting procedures for publication of ATP data in terms of the sample preparation, data collection, and reconstruction phases as well as the characterization and interpretation of the reconstructed volume. Coordinated reporting of this basic information will promote efficient communication of protocols, and aid in the evaluation of published atom probe data as geologists continue to explore atomic compositions and distributions at nanoscale.
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