Much of modern materials science is aimed at understanding and controlling functional systems at the near atomic scale. Besides theoretical underpinnings, this requires experimental methods that can resolve the atoms making individual building blocks that are making up these functional systems. Atom Probe Tomography (APT) is such a method that combines near atomic resolution by electrostatic magnification with single atom sensitive chemical analysis through time-of-flight mass spectrometry. While this technique has been around for decades, through vast improvements in both instrumentation and sample preparation techniques in recent years, atom probe analysis of functional nanosystems is now a reality.
In this talk, we will present a variety of results where APT was used successfully to analyse light and heavy elements in functional nanosystems including catalyst nanoparticles, ion conducting membranes and biomineralized tissues, thereby significantly contributing to the understanding of the behaviour these materials.